Category Archives: Tokens from within the City Walls

Here are listed some some of my brief reseach notes on a random selection of 17th century tokens that were issued by tradesmen living within the old walls of the City of London .

Robert Manfield at the Sign of The Death’s Head in Distaff Lane

A mid-17th century token issued by a tradesman operating from the sign of the Death's Head in Distaff Lane, London.

A mid-17th century token issued by a tradesman operating from the sign of the Death’s Head in Distaff Lane, London.

The above copper farthing token measures 16.2 mm and weighs 1.02 grams. It was issued by a tradesman from the Bread Street Ward of London in the mid-17th century. Its design may be formally described as follows;

Obverse: (mullet) AT . THE . DEATHES . HEAD , around the depiction of a human skull.

Reverse: (mullet) IN . DISTAF . LANE . 1652 , around a twisted wire inner circle. A triad of initials within reads, R|.M.|(rosette)D .

The token’s issue date of 1652 is clearly stated in its reverse along with a triad of initials which belong to its issuer and his wife. In this case a Mr. R.M. and a Mrs. D.M.  What is also clear is that the token issuer’s business premises were located in Distaff Lane (Note 1) in the Bread Street Ward of London. This street crossed the parishes of St. Mildred’s, Bread Street and St. Margaret Moses, Friday Street and was home, on its north side, to the hall of the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers.

A map of part of part of the Bread Street Ward of London (c.1720) showing the location of the Cordwainer's Hall (indicated in yellow) on Distaff Lane.

A map of part of part of the Bread Street Ward of London (c.1720) showing the location of the Cordwainer’s Hall (indicated in yellow) on Distaff Lane.

The design on the token’s obverse is almost certainly a depiction of the trade sign which hung over its issuer’s (or a neighbour’s) business premises. If it was his personal trade sign, and not just one which had long been associated with the building he operated from, its design may well offer clues as to his trade/profession.

In the late 16th and 17th centuries the image of a skull, or death’s head, has various potential interpretations when used as a trade sign or a decorative device on jewellery. In the case of the latter use, other than being a typical design element incorporated into mourning jewellery, the image of a skull often formed the central design of rings worn by Elizabethan bawds and procuresses (1). Additionally, it has been suggested that when used as a mid-17th century trade sign the image is potentially indicative of the apothecary trade(2). It was probably the latter suggested association which lead at least one previous researcher to suggest the issue of the above token was either Richard Meynell or Robert Moore, both of whom were known apothecaries operating in London during the mid-17th century(3).

A Re-appraisal of the Potential Identity of the Token Issuer

The current author has endeavoured to confirm the historic attribution of the above token’s issue to either of the mid-17th London century apothecaries Richard Meynell or Robert Moore. Attempts have been made to link either of these men with an abode or business premises in or near Distaff Lane in the Bread Street Ward of the city. A review of tithe and property rental values for inhabitants of London in 1638(4) together with hearth tax records for 1662 and 1666(5) has failed to identify either of these two men as having associations with this area of the city. However, further similar searches for individuals who lived in this same area, and who had the same initials as the token issuer (i.e. R.M.), have proven positive.

In both 1638 and 1662 a Robert Manfield is recorded as living in the parish of St. Margaret Moses, the parish church for which was located on the south-east corner of the cross-roads of Friday Street where it intersected with Distaff Lane and Pissing Lane. Additional searches of both local parish registers and contemporary Livery Company apprenticeship records have further identified the name of Robert Manfield’s wife and the Manfield family’s place of residence. All of these additional details match the issuer’s information as presented on the above token. As such it is now possible to confidently re-attribute the issue of this token to the above named individual. A summary of related information discovered relating to this token issuer, and his family, is given below.

It is unclear to whom and where Robert Manfield (alternatively spelt Maunsfield, Manfeild, Manfild, Mansfild and Mansfilld) was born but on the basis that he became a freeman of the Worshipful Company of Girdler’s in 1622(6) it is reasonable to assume, by back calculation (Note 2), that he was born in 1598 (± 2 years).

Although having been apprenticed to a master craftsman of the Girdler’s Company, on receiving his freedom John Manfield set-up business as an ironmonger(7) . This was not unusual as by the end of the 16th century a lot of the traditional product markets for girdlers began to dwindle as dress fashions began to change. After this time the trades practiced by the members of the Company of Girdler’s increasingly began to overlap with the traditional skills of other craftsmen associated with metal or leather working (i.e. pinners, cordwainers plus gold and silver wire drawers and ironmongers).

Within five years of completing his apprenticeship John Manfield was married and he and his wife, Dorothy, were living in the parish of St. Margaret Moses in the Bread Street Ward of London(8). It is noted that the initial of his wife’s Christian name fits with the appropriate initial in the triad of previously discussed on the above token(9). It is possible that the couple’s first home in the parish was that at which Robert was recorded at in a London tithe and rental listing document of 1638 (10). According to the order of listings in this document it is likely that John’s premises were located close to the Cordwainers Hall, which could locate him in the same property in Distaff Lane from where he later issued his trade token in 1652.

In 1627 Robert and Dorothy Manfield baptised their first recorded child, whom they named John(11). Between this date and 1650 they went on to have a total of thirteen children all of whom were baptised, and some buried, in the parish church of St. Margaret Moses on Friday Street. A total of seven of the couple’s children died during infancy and of these three died within a week of their baptisms (Note 3).

It would appear that John’s business was successful and by 1631 he was obviously earning sufficient to employ at least one household servant(12) and possibly one or more apprentices of his own.  Over the course of his career Robert took on at least four separate apprentices (Note 4). It is also possible his first son (i.e. John Manfield), also took an active role in the family business (Note 5) as by 1659 he is also recorded in the parish records of St. Margaret Moses as being an ironmonger in his own right (13) .

Robert Manfield appears to have taken an active role in his local community. He is known to have been a parish constable and also to have been politically opinionated and active (14). He is recorded as being a financial contributor to both the Relief of Ireland (i.e. post the 1641 Irish Rebellion) and later the parliamentary war effort during the English Civil War(15). His parliamentary sympathies in the run-up to the Civil War are further noted in an account quoted by Sir John Strangeways relating to a demonstration of London apprentices in Westminster on 24th November 1641. According to this report one of the apprentice demonstrators, a Master Cole, claimed that his and other masters had armed their apprentices and dispatched them to Westminster in response to calls from some members of parliament for assistance in helping change the outcome of a Common’s vote in which the “best affected party” faced defeat. Cole’s master was none other than Robert Manfield of Distaff Lane(16).

Robert Manfield continued to operate as an ironmonger in Distaff Lane after the English Civil War. His last recorded presence in the street is in 1663 when the hearth tax returns for the Upper Precinct of the parish of St. Margaret Moses note him as occupying a property containing four hearths. The position of his listing in this document, as being just prior to that for the Cordwainer’s Hall, suggests that his property may have been one of the private residences located alongside this landmark building in Distaff Lane(17).

A section of the Agas Map of central London (c.1561) showing the relative positions of the Cordwainer's Hall (indicated in yellow) on Distaff Lane and the parish church of St. Margaret Moses (indicated in green).

A section of the Agas Map of central London (c.1561) showing the relative positions of the Cordwainer’s Hall (indicated in yellow) on Distaff Lane and the parish church of St. Margaret Moses (indicated in green).

Unfortunately, the hearth tax returns compiled for March 1666 for the parish of St. Margaret Moses have not survived. As such it is not possible to confirm if Robert Mansfield or his family were still present in Distaff Lane after the tumultuous year of 1665 in which so many of London’s population either perished from the Great Plague or fled the city never to return.

Despite extensive searches by the present author and at least one earlier researcher(18), the last record of Robert or Dorothy Manfield that can be traced in London is one dated 2nd August 1665.  Again this is found in the parish registers of St. Margaret Moses and takes the form of a mention to Robert in a family members burial record(19) ;

“John Manfield the grandson of Robert Manfield, (buried) in the new church-yard.”

The John Manfield mentioned above was the son of Robert’s first son, also named John Manfield, and his wife Jane who he married in the early 1650s. At his death John Manfield junior was nearly twelve years of age. The fact that he died in mid-Summer of 1665 may be indicative as to the cause of his death as this was the period during which the Great Plague was at its peak within the city. The mention of Robert Manfield, as opposed to the deceased boy’s father John, in the above burial register entry likely implies that Robert was acting as guardian to his grandson at the time of the latter’s death and as such is suggestive of Robert still residing in the parish of St. Margaret Moses at that time.

Interestingly a review of Mills and Oliver’s Survey of building sites after the Great Fire of 1666 makes no mention of Robert Manfield as either a new or previous plot owner in Distaff Lane or in any other part of the city(20). This could be evidence that he either died during the later phase of the Great Plague or he and his remaining family left the city during that period never to return again.

Notes:

  1. In the Agas map of c.1561 gives the name of what was later to become Distaff Lane as Maidenhead Lane. The Hearth Tax Survey of 1663 clearly refers to this road as Distaff Lane as does Mills and Oliver’s survey of London after the Great Fire. The latter also refers to those sections either side of the Cordwainer’s Hall as East and West Maiden Lane.
  2. In the first quarter of the 17th century the typical length of a trade apprenticeship in London was seven years and the average age of those boys entering into them was seventeen. This age dropped over the following century.
  3. The following table chronologically lists the entries for the children (and house hold servants) of Robert and Dorothy Manfield as presented in the parish records of St. Margaret Moses(21).RMT1
  4. The following is a list of known apprentices who were bound to Robert Manfield. It is almost certainly not a complete list.
    1. Master Cole – Actively serving his apprenticeship in late 1641(22).
    2. Daniell Partridge – Bound as a new apprentice in 1656(23).
    3. James Chapman – Received his freedom in 1657(24).
    4. Robert Drinkwater – Bound as a new apprentice in 1658(25).
  5. The following table chronologically lists the entries for John Manfield and his family in the parish records of St. Margaret Moses(26).JMT1

References:

  1. Lillywhite, B. – London Signs: A Reference Book of London Signs from Earliest Times to about the Mid Nineteenth Century. (London, 1972).
  2. G.C. – Trade Tokens Issued in the Seventeenth Century in England, Wales and Ireland by Corporations, Merchants, Tradesmen, Etc. – A New and Revised Edition of William Boyne’s Work. Volume 2. (London, 1967).
  3. Whittet, T.D. – A Survey of Apothecaries’ Tokens, Including Some Previously Unrecognised Specimens. Journal of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Issue 230. (London, 1983).
  4. Dale, T.C – The Inhabitants of London in 1638. Edited from Ms.272 in Lambeth Palace Library. Society of Genealogists. (London, 1931).
  5. Davies, M.; Ferguson, C.; Harding, V.; Parkinson, E. & Wareham, A. – London and Middlesex Hearth Tax. The British Record Society. Hearth Tax Series Volume IX, Part II. (London, 2014).
  6. Ibid 5.
  7. Lindley, K. – Popular Politics and Religion in Civil War London. (Aldershot, 1997).
  8. Bannerman, W. B. – The registers of St. Mildred, Bread Street, and of St. Margaret Moses, Friday Street, London. Harleian Society. Vol. 92. (London, 1912).
  9. Ibid 8.
  10. Ibid 4.
  11. Ibid 8.
  12. Ibid 8.
  13. Ibid 8.
  14. Coates, W.H. – The journal of Sir Simonds D’Ewes, from the first recess of the Long Parliament to the withdrawal of King Charles from London. (Yale, 1942).
  15. Ibid 7.
  16. Ibid 7.
  17. Ibid 5.
  18. Boyd, P. – Inhabitants of London. A genealogical Index held by the Society of Genealogists, London.
  19. Ibid 8.
  20. Mills, P. & Oliver, J. – The Survey of Building Sites in the City of London after the Great Fire of 1666. (London Topographical Society Publication. No.103. 1967).
  21. Ibid 8.
  22. Ibid 14.
  23. The Records of London’s Livery Companies Online – Apprentices and Freemen 1400-1900 (ROLLCO at http://www.londonroll.org/).
  24. Ibid 23.
  25. Ibid 24.
  26. Ibid 8.

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The Three Tuns Tavern Against the Great Conduit in Cheapside

A mid-17th century token issued by a tradesman operating from the sign of The Three Tuns, near the Great Conduit in Cheapside, London.

A mid-17th century token issued by a tradesman operating from the sign of The Three Tuns, near the Great Conduit in Cheapside, London.

The above copper farthing token measures 16.8 mm and weighs 1.17 grams. It was issued by a tradesman from the Cheapside Ward of London.

The design of the token may be formally described as follows;

Obverse: (mullet) AGAINST . THE . GREAT , around the depiction of three barrels in a triangular stacked arrangement.

Reverse: (mullet) COVNDVIT . IN . CHEAPSIDE , around a twisted wire inner circle. A triad of initials within reads, I|.H.|.S

The triad of initials on the reverse of the above token are those of its issuers. In this case a Mr. I/J.H (where “I” also represents “J” in the Latin alphabet) and a Mrs. S.H.

The design on the token’s reverse is almost certainly a depiction of the trade sign which hung over its issuer’s (or his neighbour’s) business premises. If it was his personal trade sign, and not just an historic one which had long been associated with the building he worked from, its design may well offer clues as to the token issuer’s trade.

The Three Tuns (i.e. barrels) was a fairly common trade sign in 17th century London and one typically associated with taverns. The sign is likely derived from the ancient coat of arms of the Vintners Company of London which, like the token, depicts three wine barrels.

The token’s issue date is not stated in its legend. However, on stylistic grounds it arguably dates from the 1650s or early 1660s. What is clear from the token’s design is the business address of its issuer, i.e. at the sign of the Three Tuns “against the Great Conduit in Cheapside”. This places the token’s issuing location in the heart of the parish of St. Mary Colechurch in the vicinity of the Mercers’ Hall, close to where Cheapside meets Poultry. This was the historic site of the Great Conduit, this being the name given to the flow dispensing house and tap system located at the terminus of London’s first public water supply system (Note 1). This “fresh” system operated from 1245 to the time of its partial destruction during the Great Fire of London of September 1666 (Note 2).

By 1666 there were no fewer than fifteen Conduits in London. They were generally sited in the middle of streets and typically comprised an elaborate pillar like stone structure, which supported an elevated lead tank, and had multiple outlet pipes from which water could be drawn via taps.

The depiction of the "Little Conduit" in West Cheapside from a print of 1585.

The depiction of the “Little Conduit” in West Cheapside from a print of 1585.

In Search of the Token Issuer

There are few clues as to the identity of the issuer of the above token. What we can be certain of is that his Christian name began with the letter “I” or “J” and that his surname began with the letter “H”.  Furthermore, we know that at the time of the token’s production the issuer was married to a woman with a Christian name beginning with the letter “S” and that his business premises were “at the sign of The Three Tuns, against the Great Conduit in Cheapside”.  Also, the style and value of the token infers that it was issued during the 1650s or early 1660s. The central image of three barrels on the token’s obverse additionally suggests that the issuer’s profession might have been that of a vintner and proprietor of a tavern in Cheapside having the trade sign (i.e. “The Three Tuns”).

The fact that our token issuer was a resident of Cheapside in the mid-17th century is fortunate as this Ward of the City has been heavily studied as part of the “People in Place Project” (1). This has led to a considerable amount of parish records and tax return information related to this area being transcribed and published in searchable data base format (2). Using these data bases, which cover the period 1610 to 1687, but which are not all encompassing in their content, searches have been made based on the following criteria;

  1. All males in the parish of St. Mary Colechurch with surnames beginning with “H”. Then, where sufficient information is available in the original records, searching within the resultant sub-group for those individuals with a Christian name beginning with either the initial “I” or “J”.
  2. All males in the parish of St. Mary Colechurch with surnames beginning with “H” who are recorded as being married. Then, where sufficient information is available in the original records, searching within the resultant sub-group for those individuals whose wives’ Christian names begin with the letter “S”.

A summary of the results from the above searches are listed in the table below.

Analysis table of mid=17th century male inhabitants identified from the parish records of St. Mary Colechurch who could have issued The Three Tuns trade farthing (click on image to enlarge).

Analysis table of mid-17th century male inhabitants identified from the parish records of St. Mary Colechurch who could have issued The Three Tuns trade farthing (click on image to enlarge).

From an analysis of the above presented data, coupled with the estimated dates between which the above token was issued, two possible issuer’s names stand out. These are John Higgenbottom and John Heath. Both men were married, as indicated by the Pew List for the parish church of St. Mary Colechurch.

The above data indicates that John Heath was resident in the parish of St. Mary Colechurch from at least 1649 until 1661 and that he was married from at least 1649 to 1658. Unfortunately his wife’s first name is not recorded in the parish church’s pew list and subsequent searches of local parish registers has failed to find any further evidence of her. John Heath is also listed as being one of fifty eight individuals whose property was destroyed in the Great Fire of September 1666. However, his name is not recorded as one of those who staked out his original building plot, in preparation for its rebuilding, after the fire (3).

As for John Higgenbottom, the above summary table indicates that he was first recorded in the parish in 1653 and was still present (or at least a person of the same name), in a re-built property after the Great Fire, until at least 1672. The parish pew list suggests he was married from 1656 to 1661. Again there is no evidence for his wife’s Christian name.

Further searches for the above two individuals have been made in the records of the Worshipful Company of Vintners, given the suggestion by the token’s design that this was the potential trade of its issuer. In the case of John Higgenbottom, no match has been found. However, in the case of John Heath multiple matches (Note 3) are available and furthermore two of these directly place a vintner of that name in the parish of St. Mary Colechurch in both 1654 (4) and 1662/3 (5).

The Hearth Tax returns for 1662/3 lists a John Heath occupying a property containing 5 hearths in the parish of St. Mary Colechurch. Research conducted by the “People in Place Project” goes on to suggest that the property in question was one of the two indicated in yellow in the map of Cheapside parishes reproduced below (6). Both of these properties were located on the south side of Cheapside and were sandwiched between “Gropecunt Alley” on the west and “Bird in Hand Alley” on the east. Given the legend on John Heath’s token, i.e. “Against the Great Conduit in Cheapside”, it is most likely that of the two properties indicated below John Heath’s was that which faced onto the main street opposite the Great Conduit and Mercers’ Hall (i.e. that labelled number 2).

A reconstructed plan of part of Cheapside Ward, London as it would have been in the mid-17th century.

A reconstructed plan of part of Cheapside Ward, London as it would have been in the mid-17th century.

Despite being listed in the register of those who lost property in the parish of St. Mary Colechurch in the Great Fire of September 1666, John Heath is not listed in the parish as one of those who paid Hearth Tax on Lady Day of 1666. His place in the register for the properties of “Bird in Hand Alley” appears to have been taken by a Mr. William Empson (7).

This observation is puzzling but could be explained by a number of possible scenarios, including the following;

  1. Whilst still owning his property/tavern in Cheapside John Heath may have moved out of the parish, and possibly sub-let it to William Empson. Many of the wealthier classes moved out of London in 1665 to escape the ravages of the Great Plague. Not all of these people were to return to the city and many established new businesses outside of the capital whilst still retaining legal claims on their original London premises.
  2. John Heath may have been one of those thousands of unfortunate inhabitants of the city to have been claimed as a victim of the Great Plague which decimated London’s population in 1665/66. If John did die then, and was still married at that time, his widow and/or children (assuming he had any) would presumably still had claim to his property. Hence his name, as that of the lease holder of his Cheapside premises, could still have been recorded in the 1666 parish listing of those who lost property in the Great Fire.

A general search of mid-17th century London parish registers has so far failed to identify a Mr. John and Mrs. S. Heath. While the general parish records for St. Mary Colechurch contain multiple entries for John Heath and his un-named wife, their children (supposing they had any) are conspicuous by their absence in the parish’s registers of baptisms, marriages and burials. Only a single reference to the family has so far been found in this set of records and this is dated 20th September 1666 and is reproduced below;

The burial record of a "John Heath" from the parish registers of St. Mary Colechurch, London. Dated 20th September 1665.

The burial record of a “John Heath” from the parish registers of St. Mary Colechurch, London. Dated 20th September 1665.

We cannot be sure if the John Heath in this record is our token issuer or possibly a relation (e.g. his son) as neither the age or parents’ names of the diseased are given. It is tempting to think that the above register entry is a direct reference to the death of John Heath the token issuer. If this is the case it would explain why his name was absent from Cheapside Ward Hearth Tax retrurns of Lady Day 1666.  Whilst no cause of death is recorded in the register its timing coincides with that period during which the Great Plague of that year was at its height. As such it is highly likely that the above entry was for a victim of the plague.

Footnotes:

1) In this case of the Great Conduit the word “Conduit” is used in an archaic sense. In medieval times it referred to the terminal point of a water supply system, whereas today the word would apply only to the pipeline. Today such a terminal structure would probably be termed a “Cistern” or “Public Fountain”.

2) The history of the Great Conduit started in 1237 with the purchase by the City Corporation of several fresh water springs to the west of the City Walls, near Tyburn. This was the beginning of a major civil engineering project to harness this water in a reservoir from where it could be channelled over 2.5 miles, via a gravity pipe line system, into the heart of the city. From here it could be tapped off for use by the public via a series of Conduits. Construction of this water distribution system, largely comprising buried lead pipes, took several years until by c.1245 the terminal structure, known as the Conduit, was completed. This pioneering initiative must have contributed greatly to the successful growth of the City in the years that followed. It was not until the 1390’s, when second and third Conduits, located further west in Cheapside, that the original one became known as “The Great Conduit”(8).

The course of the fresh water pipe line which served the Little and Great Conduits in Cheapside Ward, London

The course of the fresh water pipe line which served the Little and Great Conduits in Cheapside Ward, London.

By the 14th, 15th and 16th Centuries the original water supplies at Tyburn became further supplemented with natural fresh water supplies on high ground further west at Marylebone and Paddington and then from others to the north at Highgate, Highbury and Dalston (9). Some of these major extension works were financed by the City Authorities while others, such as the refurbishment of the Conduit Houses themselves, were undertaken by private citizens who donated large sums of money either during their lifetimes or by bequest in their Wills.

Families living locally to each Conduit had the right to tap water for their own domestic use free of charge. Typically they collected and transferred the water to their homes in large 6 gallon vessels, known as “tankards” or “tynes”, or alternatively pails, pots or half-tubs. Independent water-bearers also operated from the vicinity of the larger Conduits. These tradesmen effectively operated under a licence granted to them by the City Authorities to whom they had to pay an annual fee in return. They collected water from the Conduits in a variety of vessels for subsequent distribution around the city to both private homes and businesses (i.e. notably brew houses, tanneries and cloth dyers etc., etc.).

A mid-17th century London trade token likely issued by a fresh water delivery man operating from the Long Acre Conduit, London. His token clearly illustrates some of the tools of his trade for delivering water. On the obverse is a man with a yoke and two pales while on the reverse is depicted a horse drawn cart carrying a water barrel.

A mid-17th century London trade token likely issued by a fresh water delivery man operating from the Long Acre Conduit, London. His token clearly illustrates some of the tools of his trade for delivering water. On the obverse is a man with a yoke and two pales while on the reverse is depicted a horse drawn cart carrying a water barrel.

There are very few good contemporary images or descriptions of the Great Conduit in Cheapside. From what evidence is available it appears that in its final form it comprised a rectangular building, with a gabled roof, together with an adjoining tower, both having castellations. The latter possibly housed the Counduit’s lead cistern or head tank which supplied a series of gravity fed discharge taps below. These were possibly located on a common discharge manifold and were located the outer facing walls of the adjacent Conduit House.

The depiction of Cheapside Market showing the "Great Conduit" (building far right). Taken from a page of Hugh Alley's “A Caveat for the City of London” published in 1598.

The depiction of Cheapside Market showing the “Great Conduit” (building far right). Taken from a page of Hugh Alley’s “A Caveat for the City of London” published in 1598.

The above described hydraulic arrangement of cistern manifold and taps is suggested in a representation of Cheapside Market contained in Hugh Alley’s “A Caveat for the City of London” published in 1598 plus in an earlier representation of the Conduit produced c.1550. The latter clearly shows the location of the Great Conduit in relation to the entrance to the Mercers Hall which was to its immediate north-west off Cheapside.

A section of a map of London (c.1550) showing the parish of St. Mary Colechurch and highlighting the location of the Great Conduit (in yellow) in front of the Mercers' Hall.

A section of a map of London (c.1550) showing the parish of St. Mary Colechurch and highlighting the location of the Great Conduit (in green) in front of the Mercers’ Hall.

A further representation of the Great Conduit, from the Agas Map of London, of c.1561, confirms its location at the junction of Cheapside and Poultry, just to the south of the parish church of St. Mary Colechurch but does not indicate the presence of the earlier noted adjoining tower structure. This omission may possibly be down to the map’s lack of precise detail and/or some degree of artistic licence in the Conduit’s representation. A lack of precise detail may also account for the omission of the same tower in the ground plan of the Great Conduit in Leake’s survey of London after the Great Fire, published in 1666. From this map the plan dimensions of the Conduit House may be roughly estimated as being 45 feet long (east to west) and 20 feet wide (north to south) (10). In both the c.1550 and 1561 representations of the Great Conduit groups of “tankards” or “tynes” can be clearly seen standing in the street immediately to the west.

A section of the Agas Map of London (c.1561) showing part of Cheapside Ward and highlighting the location of the Great Conduit (in yellow) in front of the Mercers' Hall.

A section of the Agas Map of London (c.1561) showing part of Cheapside Ward and highlighting the location of the Great Conduit (in yellow) in front of the Mercers’ Hall.

The Great Conduit was ruined by the Great Fire of 1666, and in 1669 was proclaimed as a “hindrance to the neighbourhood” and was removed by order of the City Authorities.  The resultant reclaimed materials were sold with the exception of cistern which was taken to the Guildhall (11). By the time of the Great Fire the Great Conduit was arguably no longer in great use as by then many of the surrounding houses in the neighbourhood enjoyed their own piped running water, supplied from the New River.

Manhole cover commemorating the history and location of the Great Conduit in Cheapside plus the present day entrance to its now buried undercroft chamber.

Manhole cover commemorating the history and location of the Great Conduit in Cheapside plus the present day entrance to its now buried undercroft chamber.

Today the approximate site of the Great Conduit is marked by both an official “Blue Plaque” and a further commemorative inscription on a manhole cover. This is no ordinary services manhole but one that leads directly to the remains of the Great Conduit original sub-structure or undercroft. This hidden chamber beneath Cheapside, was first discovered in 1899 during an inspection of local sewers (12). At that time it was wrongly identified as an ancient Roman Subway. Although reported at the time the discovery of this subterranean chamber was ultimately forgotten until in 1994 when it was re-discovered by British Telecom as part of the redevelopment of the site of No.1 Poultry.

At the time of its rediscovery in 1994 the Great Conduit’s undercroft had been largely backfilled with construction debris, presumably by workmen carrying out underground works nearby. The walls of the undercroft were found to be massive, measuring some 2 meters thick (13). This indicates that its original builders were fully aware of the significant loads the Conduit’s substructure would have to support from the large water filled lead cistern above.

The undercoft of the Great Conduit in Cheapside as it appeared when first discovered in 1899 and after its rediscovery and subsequent excavation by Museum of London Archaeology in 1994.

The undercroft of the Great Conduit in Cheapside as it appeared when first discovered in 1899 and after its rediscovery and subsequent excavation by Museum of London Archaeology in 1994.

Both in the 1899 and the 1994 photographs of the undercroft can clearly be seen a doorway in its eastern wall (i.e. that facing onto Poultry). This indicates that at the time the Conduit was built in the 13th century the undercroft must have been at, or just below, the original medieval street level.

3) The records for the Worshipful Company of Vintners list two separate individuals by the name of John Heath who were apprenticed in London into the trade in 1624/5 and 1634 respectively (14). Their respective entries in the company’s apprentice register are summarised below.

  1. John Heath – Son of John Heath of Bermondsey, Surrey apprenticed to Thomas Angell on 2nd March 1624/5.
  2. John Heath – Son of John Heath, a gentleman of Bristol, Gloucestershire, apprenticed to Ralph Moore on 4th November 1634.

In the 17th century the duration of most apprenticeships, served for a master of one of the London Livery Companies, was typically seven years. Boys were typically bound into such apprenticeships between the ages of 12 and 14 and would have come to the capital from all over Britain.

Records also exist in the Vintner’s Company of a John Heath, presumably referring to one or  both of the above individuals, acting as master and taking on his/their own apprentices as listed below;

  1. George Geary, apprenticed on 3rd November 1648.
  2. William Eames, apprenticed on 4th November 1651.
  3. John Moore, apprenticed on 7th September 1658.

As yet no evidence has been found linking any of the above apprentices to the parish of St. Mary Colechurch and as such the token issuer John Heath.

References:

  1. People in Place – Families, households and housing in London 1550-1720.   (history.ac.uk/cmh/pip).
  2. Merry, M & Baker, P. – Source specific data sets, Cheapside and Tower Hill, 1558-1769. On-line data sets accessible at http://sas-space.sas.ac.uk/id/eprint/752 . (Institute of Historical Research, Centre for Metropolitan History, London, 2007).
  3. Mills, P. & Oliver, J. – The Survey of Building Sites in the City of London after the Great Fire of 1666. (London Topographical Society Publication. No.103. 1967).
  4. Rogers, K. – The Mermaid and Mitre Taverns in Old London. Entry for the Mitre Tavern, Cheapside. (London, 1828).
  5. Keene, D.J. and Harding, V. – Historical Gazetteer of London Before the Great Fire Cheapside; Parishes of All Hallows Honey Lane, St Martin Pomary, St Mary Le Bow, St Mary Colechurch and St Pancras Soper Lane. (London, 1987).
  6. Ibid 5.
  7. Ibid 6.
  8. Flaxman, T. – The Great Conduit in Chepe. (Worshipful Company of Water Conservators. London, 2014).
  9. Ibid 8.
  10. Ibid 5.
  11. Ibid 5.
  12. Wintle, W.G. – London Underground: a visit to the subterranean city. (Harmsworth Magazine, Volume 3, September 1899.).
  13. Burch, M; Treveil, P. & Keene D. – The development of early medieval and later Poultry and
  14. Cheapside: Excavations at 1, Poultry and vicinity, City of London. (Museum of London Archaeology, Monograph 38, 2011).
  15. Webb, C. – London Livery Company Apprenticeship Registers. Volume 43. Vintners’ Company 1609-1800. (Society of Genealogists, London. 2006).

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The Lion & Key in Thames Street – The investigation of a mid-17th century token from London

A mid-17th century farthing token issued by by a tradesman living off Thames Street in the parish of St. Botolph, Billingsgate.

A mid-17th century farthing token issued by a tradesman living off Thames Street (possibly at Lion(‘s) Quay in the parish of St. Botolph, Billingsgate.

The above brass farthing token measures 15.5 mm and weighs 0.99 grams. It was issued in the name of a tradesman operating in, or an adjacent area to, part of Thames Street in the Billingsgate Ward of the City of London.

The design of the token may be formally described as follows;

Obverse: (mullet) THE.LYON.AND.KEY.IN , around the depiction of a lion rampant (facing left) holding a key.

Reverse: (mullet) THEMES.STREETE.1651 , around a twisted wire inner circle. A triad of initials within reads, F|.R.| (rosette) E .

We cannot be sure if the emblem on the obverse of the token is the issuer’s trade sign or a pictorial indication of his precise address. While certainly not unique, the trade sign of the lion and key was not at all common in 17th or 18th century Britain. However, in this particular example it has been suggested(1) that the trade sign was a pictorial play on words based on the name of an adjacent wharf (i.e. Lion or Lion’s Quay) which was located on the north bank of the River Thames, south off Thames Street, approximately between Billingsgate Dock and Botolph Wharf. This was one of 20 quays established in 1558 off Thames Street between London Bridge and the Tower Ditch and is clearly identified in the Agas Map of London (c.1561). The general waterfront area west of between Billingsgate up to Old London Bridge appears to have always been an important area of commercial wharfs with evidence for such dating back to the Anglo-Saxon and Roman periods.

A section of the Agas Map of London (c.1561) between Old London Bridge and Billingsgate Dock showing the approximate location of Lion(‘s) Quay.

A section of the Agas Map of London (c.1561) between Old London Bridge and Billingsgate Dock showing the approximate location of Lion(‘s) Quay.

Lion Quay was very close to Pudding Lane where the Great Fire of London broke out in the early hours of 2nd September 1666 and will have been consumed by the inferno in its early stages as it rapidly spread along Thames Street and the packed warehouses and wharfs on the adjacent Thames water front.  After the subsequent redevelopment of this part of the city this general area on the north bank of the River Thames was re-named New Quay. However, the memory of Lion Quay appears to have been retained in the name given to an alley leading south off Thames Street at a location just east of the former site of St. Botolph’s Church (which was never re-built after the Great Fire) and west of Billingsgate Dock.

Part of John Ogilby and William Morgan’s 1676 Map of London showing Thames Street and the River Thames waterfront around Billingsgate Dock post its redevelopment after the Great Fire of 1666.

Part of John Ogilby and William Morgan’s 1676 Map of London showing Thames Street and the River Thames waterfront around Billingsgate Dock post its redevelopment after the Great Fire of 1666.

Trade signs and emblems based on such a pictorial play on names, such as that above, can be found on several other 17th century tokens. For example, in nearby Queenhithe, Bartholomew Fish, a fletcher, adopted the emblem of the three fish as his trade sign while the obverse design selected for the trade farthings of Robert Hancock, a wood monger of Whitefriars, show an outstretched hand on which is perched a cockerel (i.e. a “hand” and “cock”) this being a pictorial representation of his surname, i.e. “Han(d)-cock”.

The triad of initials on the reverse of the above token are those of its issuers. In this case a Mr. F. R. and a Mrs E.R. The token’s issue date, 1651, is clearly stated on its reverse together with its location of issue, i.e. Thames Street.

A search of hearth tax records for the mid-17th century has failed to identify the token issuers from the above mentioned triad of initials. The hearth tax returns for Lady Day 1666 indicates two occupants of Lion Quay in the parish of St. Botolph, Billingsgate, with surnames beginning with the letter “R” (i.e. as per that of the token issuers). These were James Rix, who occupied a meagre property with only a single hearth and Peter Richards, who occupied a much larger property containing 10 hearths. The entry for Peter Richards is at the start of the list for Lion Quay which may indicate its location at the head of Lion Quay Alley and the south side of Thames Street. This property’s relatively large number of hearths may be indicative of it having been a tavern. While the first name initial of Peter Richards excludes him from being the token issuer it doesn’t exclude him from being related to him. Given the 15-year time difference between the token’s issue date and the hearth tax entry it is possible that Peter Richardson was the token issuer’s son continuing in his family’s business. It is equally probable that Peter Richards may have had no connection whatsoever with the token issuers and that the absence of a Mr. F. R. from the 1666 hearth tax returns simply implies that by that time the family had moved out of the area or had even died, possibly as victims of the great plague of 1665/6 which killed approximately 1 in 5 of the city’s population at that time.

A review of businesses and trades signs in the Thames Street area immediately after its rebuilding post the Great Fire indicates the existence of a Lion and Key tavern which in 1669 which was owned first by John Pack and Joseph Staples and later that year by Nathaniel Hawe(2). This tavern was located in the eastern part of Thames Street (later known as Lower Thames Street) far removed from the entry to Lion Quay Alley and well outside of the old parish boundaries of St. Botolph, Billingsgate.

In a further attempt to identifying the token issuers a series of earlier documentary sources plus contemporary London parish registers have been consulted. Unfortunately, most of the parish registers for the mid-17th for the token issuer’s home parish of St. Botolph, Billingsgate appear not to have survived the parish Church’s destruction during the Great Fire. However, one manuscript housed in Lambeth Palace Library, now commonly known as “The Inhabitants of London in 1638”(3) lists tithe payers in nine-tenths of the city of London, by parish, for the year 1638 together with the rental value of their property. Under the entry for the parish of St. Botolph, Billingsgate there is only one person with initials that match those of our token issuer (i.e. F.R.) and they are those of Master Francis Risden. The same Francis Risden, and his immediate family, are also recorded in the genealogical database known as Boyd’s Inhabitants of London. It is from this source that we learn the Christian name of his wife, Elizabeth. This fits perfectly with the third letter in the triad of issuers initials on the reverse of the above token. While it is impossible to categorically confirm Francis Risden as the issuer of our token there must be a high probability that he was.

From the above sources, together with additional parish register entries, and a copy of Francis Risden’s Will(4), it is possible to piece together a very basic outline of his life and family history.

Francis Risden was the oldest of four known children born to Francis Risden (senior) and his wife Catherine Olibbey. Francis and Catherine were married on 3rd March 1605 at the parish church of St. Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney. Their four known children were all baptised in the nearby parish church of St. Mary-atte-Bow between 1606 and 1611.

1606/7 – Francis Risden, son of Francis Risden, victualler, was baptised the 11th day of February

1608/9 – Thomas Risden, son of Francis Risden, victualler, was baptised the 12th day of February

1610 – John Risden, son of Francis Risden, silk weaver, was baptised the 30th day of September

1611/12 – Barbarie Risden, daughter of Francis Risden, a silk weaver, was baptised ye 16th day of February

It is interesting to note the change of occupation of Francis Risden senior between 1608 and 1610. The leap from victualler to silk weaver could be considered as an extreme change of occupation if Francis hadn’t already some related skills pertaining to the weaving trade.

In 1619 it appears that Francis Risden senior enrolled his sons Francis (then aged 12 years) and Thomas (10 years of age) into the Merchant Taylors’ School(5). Founded in 1551, by the Merchant Taylors’ Company, this early school was located in the Manor of the Rose, in Suffolk Lane in the Candlewick Ward of the city.

How long Francis stayed a pupil in the Merchant Taylor’s School is unknown as it what he did immediately after leaving the school.

The next reference we have to Francis Risden is from the earlier cited reference of 1638 in which he is listed as an inhabitant of the parish of St. Botolph, Billingsgate living in a property with a rental value of £60, this being the third highest listed in the parish at that time. Living in such a comparatively high value property would indicate Francis as being someone of relatively high status in the parish. A later reference(6) confirms that Francis was living in this same parish for at least some four years as his son, also named Francis, is recorded as having been born there on the 23rd November 1634. The same source also quotes that by 1648 Francis Risden (the token issuer) was a weaver. While no record of Francis’s marriage has so far been found in any surviving London parish register it is clear that by 1634 he was married and from other sources the name of his wife is confirmed as Elizabeth(7,8) while that of his one known daughter was Margaret (date of birth unknown)(9) .

In becoming a weaver Francis was obviously following in his father’s footsteps. Unfortunately no record has so far been found of him becoming a registered apprentice under a master of the Worshipful Company of Weavers although he may have initially followed a different trade and then chose to buy himself onto the register of the Weaver’s Company at a later date. Such changing of career paths was not unheard of as long as the tradesman in question had sufficient funds to buy himself entry into the respective city Livery Company representing his new chosen trade and that he had sufficient talents in that trade to make a livelihood out of it. Given that Francis’s father had been a weaver it can assumed that he acquired at least some of his father’s trade skills while assisting him as a young boy.

 In 1648/9 Francis Risden enrolled his son (then aged 14) into his old school (i.e. the Merchant Taylor’s School). Francis obviously had sufficient regard for his old school to select it for his son.

Nothing further can be found recorded for Francis over the next 5 years until 19th of June 1654. By then, at the age of only 47, he was probably aware that his health was faltering as it was on that date he chose to make his last Will and Testament. Just over three months later Francis had died as the proving of his Will by the Court of Probate is dated in Westminster on 25th September 1654.

Under the provisions of Francis’s Will(10) he left the following after the payment of any outstanding debts and funeral expenses;

  1. To each of his surviving brothers and sister were to be paid the meagre sum of 12 pence.
  2. Thereafter a third of the value of his remaining estate to his children Francis and Margaret.
  3. The remaining part of his estate together with all goods and chattels were left to his “loving wife” Elizabeth who was also named as the Will’s executrix.

As an interesting aside to the above there is one other token known from mid-17th century London that was issued from Thames Street and which bears the same obverse emblem of a lion (rampant) holding a key. This additional token is undated so we cannot be sure if is contemporary, earlier or later in issue date than the one discussed above although stylistically they could be argued as being contemporary issues. Unlike the earlier described token type very few specimens of this second similar one have survived into modern collections. One such example is illustrated and described below.

A further mid-17th century farthing token issued by by a tradesman living off Thames Street (possibly at Lion('s) Quay in the parish of St. Botolph, Billingsgate.

A further mid-17th century farthing token issued by by a tradesman living off Thames Street (possibly at Lion(‘s) Quay in the parish of St. Botolph, Billingsgate.

 Obverse: (mullet) IAMES.HAWKINS.AT , around the depiction of a lion rampant (facing left) holding a key.

Reverse: (mullet) LYON.KEY.IN.THEMSTRET , around a twisted wire inner circle. A triad of initials within reads, I|.H.| .V .

Arguably the direct reading of the above reverse token legend suggests that its issuer was a resident of Lion Quay, off Thames Street. However, we cannot dismiss the alternative interpretation that James’s trade establishment was at (or adjacent to) premises bearing the sign of the lion and key, which, as in the earlier described token type, was a pictorial play on words of the issuer’s address (i.e. Lion or Lion’s Quay).

What is interesting about this second token issuer is that he appears to have a direct link to Francis Risden, who was arguably the issuer of the earlier described token type.

Francis Risden’s Will was signed by three independent witnesses together with the public notary who was commissioned to prepare it on his behalf. The name of the latter was “James Hawkins”. An individual by this name is known to have acted as public notary in the preparing of a Will for at least one other near contemporary person from the parish of St. Botolph, Billingsgate (i.e. Richard Brown in 1640)(11).

If this same public notary is the name man who issued the above token it raises a few interesting questions. For example near to the time of his death did Francis Risden call on the services of Hawkins purely by chance or was he already running an established business close by or adjacent to that of Risden himself, therefore making the two men potential contemporary friends or at least neighbours? Alternatively, did James Hawkins see an opportunity arise after Francis Risden’s death by offering to buying Risden’s old trade premises from his wife and executrix Elizabeth Risden? If the latter was the case then presumably Hawkins’s tokens were issued after those of Francis Risden. Stylistically speaking their comparative designs arguably appear to be of a similar date.

If James Hawkins, the token issuer, is indeed the same person as signed Francis Risden’s Will it makes his token issue of further interest as being possibly the only known example from a London based public notary.

Footnote:

In January 1982 an area south of Thames Street, east and west of the site of the former parish church of St. Botolph, Billingsgate, and extending down to the old Thames waterfront underwent a yearlong archaeological excavation conducted by the Museum of London. The following contemporary BBC Chronicle and Thames News reports indicate some of what was found, including the evidence of the destruction caused to the area by the Great Fire of 1666 and the evidence for the redevelopment of the area thereafter.

The excavation of the post Great Fire  levels around the area of St. Botolph’s Church and Lane – BBC Chronicle – “On The Waterfront”. 1984.

The excavation of the immediate pre Great Fire  levels around the area of St. Botolph’s Church and Lane – BBC Chronicle – “On The Waterfront”. 1984.

Excavation of St. Botolph, Billingsgate – Thames News

References:

  1. Burn, H.B. – A descriptive catalogue of the London traders, tavern, and coffee-house tokens presented to the Corporation Library by Henry Benjamin Hanbury Beaufoy. (London, 1853).
  2. London Public House History (Web Site) referencing original mortgage documents held at London Metropolitan Archives, London. For specific reference and list of landlords see the following web page www.pubshistory.com/LondonPubs/AllHallowsBarking/LionKey.shtml .
  3. Dale, T.C – The Inhabitants of London in 1638. Edited from Ms. 272 in Lambeth Palace Library. Society of Genealogists. (London, 1931).
  4. PROB 11/234 – Will of Francis Risden (19th of June 1654), National Archives, London.
  5. C.J. Rev – Register of the Scholars Admitted into The Merchant Taylor’s School from A.D. 1562 to 1874. Compiled from Authentic Sources with Biographical Notes. Volume I. (London, 1882).
  6. Ibid 5.
  7. Boyd, P. – Inhabitants of London. A genealogical Index held by the Society of Genealogists, London.
  8. Ibid 4.
  9. Ibid 4.
  10. Ibid 4.
  11. Ibid 7.

 

 

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John Kent at the Three Tuns Taverns

The mid-17th century copper farthing tokens illustrated below are of similar weight (0.98 grams and 0.95 gams respectively) and size (15.4 mm and 15.7 mm respectively) and were both issued by the same person, namely John Kent, a vintner and citizen of London. The designs of the two tokens are described further below.

A farthing token issued in the name of the Three Tuns tavern in Gracechurch Street, London

A farthing token issued in the name of the Three Tuns tavern in Gracechurch Street, London

Obverse: (mullet) THE. 3. TVNN. TAVERNE. IN , around a twisted wire circle, within the depiction of three barrels in a triangular stacked arrangement.

Reverse: (mullet) GRACE.CHVRCH.STREETE, around a twisted wire circle, within a triad of initials comprising I | .K. | .E

A farthing token issued in the name of the Three Tuns tavern in Crutched Friars, London.

A farthing token issued in the name of the Three Tuns tavern in Crutched Friars, London.

Obverse: (cinquefoil) AT . THE . 3 . TVN . TAVERN , around the depiction of three barrels in a triangular stacked arrangement.

Reverse: (cinquefoil) IN . CRVTCHED . FRIERS , around a twisted wire circle, within a triad of initials comprising I | .K. | .E

The two separate business addresses given on the reverse side of each of these tokens (.i.e. Gracechurch Street in the Candlewick Ward of the city and Crutched Friars in the Tower Ward of the city) clearly indicates that they were issued from two different taverns but with a shared common name (i.e. the Three Tuns). The Three Tuns was a fairly common tavern sign in 17th century London. It is derived from the ancient coat of arms of the Vintners Company of London which, like the token, depicts three wine barrels lying on their sides and arranged in a triangular pattern.

The common triad of initials on the reverse of the above tokens are those of their respective issuers which in this case were John (i.e. where “I” represents “J” in the Latin alphabet) and his wife Elizabeth Kent.

Visually the two above tokens look very similar. The difference in their surface colouring is indicative of the chemical conditions that each has been exposed to since being lost in the mid-17th century. The dark green patina of the first is telling of it being buried for a considerable period in chemically rich soil. The dark brown toning of the second is typical of it being recovered from waterlogged and low oxygen content conditions and is typical of most such tokens recovered from the River Thames foreshore.

Examples of Legend dividers on 17th Century British Tradesman's tokens - A mullet (left) and a cinquefoil (right)

Examples of Legend dividers on 17th Century British Tradesman’s tokens – A mullet (left) and a cinquefoil (right)

Stylistically the first of the two tokens appears to be the older of the two. The use of the “mullet” ornament as a divider in both the obverse and reverse legends is typical of tokens dating from 1648/9 to c.1662. The alternative use of a “cinquefoil” ornament as a legend divider in the second token is indicative of a later issuing date, typically c.1662 to 1668. By the time of this second issuing period farthing tokens were being struck in far fewer numbers in comparison to half penny denomination trade tokens.

In Search of the History of John Kent & his Family

John Kent, the token issuer, was the son of John Kent a yeoman of Standon in rural Hertfordshire. In December 1631 John was sent by his father to London to be apprenticed to George Gopsell a citizen and vintner of the city (1). Like other boys entering trade apprenticeships during this period he would typically have been around fourteen years of age (i.e. suggesting his year of birth as 1617). He would have been expected to work and learn his trade under his new master for approximately seven years before receiving his freedom and becoming a member of the Worshipful Company of Vintners. There after (i.e. c.1638) he would have been free to practice his trade independently.

It is not known where in London John Kent first set up his own business but within three years after completing his apprenticeship he appears to have already established himself and felt sufficiently confident to take on an apprentice of his own on 1st June 1641 (1). This was to be the first of many apprentices he took on over his long career (Note 1). By 1643 John was obviously financially secure and settled enough to get married.  His bride was Elizabeth Winch, the daughter of a grocer and church warden originally from the parish of St. Mildred, Poultry in the Cheap Ward of the city (2). The couple married in the parish church of St. John, Hackney on 23rd December 1643. Two years later there is parish register evidence that they were living in the parish of All Hallows, Lombard Street in the Candlewick Ward of the city. John was to retain strong ties to All Hallows parish church for the rest of his life.

Within a couple of years of the marriage of John and Elizabeth the parish registers of All Hallows, Lombard Street record the christenings of their first two children, Mercy and Elizabeth Kent.

12th October 1645 – Merse the daughter of John and Elizabeth Kent was baptised.

4th November 1649 – Elizabeth the daughter of John Kente was baptised.

In 1654 the church warden’s accounts of St. Benet, Gracechurch record his tenancy in Gracechurch Street from that year until the Great Fire in 1666 (3). It has been suggested that his first business in the street was based at the Cock Tavern (4). However, by the start of 1656 he and his family were most definitely in the Three Tuns Tavern as the following family burial entries from the parish registers of All Hallows, Lombard Street confirm;

Samuell Kent – Samuell the son of John Kent, vintner, & of Elizabeth his wife was buried in the South chapel on the south side under the pew marked 9 upon the 13th day of January Anno. 1655

Francis Kent – The daughter of John Kent vintner at the 3 tuns in Gracechurch Street and Elisabeth his wife was buried in the South Chapel on ye south side underneath the pews marked 9 and 10 upon the 10th day of February in the year aforesaid (i.e. 1655/6).

A review of the Hearth Tax returns for London on Lady Day 1666 indicates an entry for a John Kent in Lombard Street at a property containing 16 hearths (5). Such a number of hearths is in keeping with a well sized tavern of the period. The layout and geographical location sub-heading in of the Hearth Tax return document would indicate John Kent’s property was located at the east end of Lombard Street on the south side close to All Hallows parish church. Given that the contemporary accepted address for the three Tuns taverns as being in Gracechurch Street this coupled with the Hearth Tax return evidence would logically put the tavern’s location as being at the south-east corner of Lombard Street at the north-south junction with Gracechurch street. Presumably the tavern’s main entrance was via Gracechurch Street, hence it being known as the Three Tuns in Gracechurch Street. According to one source (6) citing John Roque’s 1746 map of London the Three Tuns tavern was located on the western side of Gracechurch Street, due east of the church of St. Clement’s Eastcheap but within the bounds of the parish of St. Benet’s. It is likely that this refers to the later tavern of the same name built in Gracechurch street after the Great Fire of 1666 (Note 2).

Gracechurch & Lombard Streets c.1720 indicating the locations of the pre Great Fire Three Tuns Tavern (YELLOW), post Great Fire Three Tuns Tavern (GREEN( plus All Hall0ws Church (RED) and St. Clement's Eastcheap (BLUE)

Gracechurch & Lombard Streets c.1720 indicating the locations of the pre Great Fire Three Tuns Tavern (YELLOW), post Great Fire Three Tuns Tavern (GREEN) plus All Hall0ws Church (RED) and St. Clement’s Eastcheap (BLUE)

Unfortunately there was to be more sorrow in the Kent household over the next three years as the following parish register entries from All Hallows, Lombard Street attest to;

Elizabeth Kent – Elizabeth Kent the wife of John Kent vintner in Gracechurch Street was buried in the South Chapel of our church on the south side underneath the first two pews upon the 28th day of December 1657

With two known surviving children still to look after and a family business to run the loss of Elizabeth must have hit John hard despite having some potential support from his apprentice(s) (Note 1). With this in mind it is not so surprising that within a year of Elizabeth’s death John was preparing to re-marry as recorded by the following banns entry in the parish register of All Hallows, Lombard Street made on the 29th October 1658;

A marriage intended between John Kent, widower of the Parish of All Hallows Lombard Street, and Elizabeth Barret, spinster, the daughter of Peter Barret, gentleman, of the Parish Margaret Pattens London, was published in the market place of Cheapside upon three market days, in three several weeks one after another, between the hours of eleven and five of the clock according to the late Act of Parliament that is to say upon Saturday the first, Monday the third and Wednesday ye 12th days of January 1658. & no exception was made against the same.

And on the 18th of January 1658 the said parties above named were married in Margaret Pattens Church by Mr. Thomas Lye minister of this parish.

Confirmation of John’s second marriage is also documented in the parish register of St. Margaret Pattens Church.

Exactly nine months after John and Elizabeth’s marriage the Kent family was to have yet more misfortune as recorded in the registers for All Hallows Church, Lombard Street.

Sarah Kent – Sarah the daughter of Mr. John Kent of the Three Tunns in Gracechurch Street was buried in the South Chapel of our church on the south side of the pews marked as 10, 11 upon the 18th day of September 1659

No baptism record has so far been found for Sarah Kent so it is not known if she was the product of John’s first or second marriage. Either is possible but the present writer is of the opinion that she was probably the infant daughter of John and Elizabeth Barret.

One further child was born to the couple while living in Gracechurch Street.

Dixy Kent – Dixy the son of John & Elizabeth Kent vintner at the Three Tuns in Gracechurch Street was baptised in the parish church the 26th day of January by Mr. Thomas Lye the minister

The Kent family appears to have survived the Great Plague of 1665. It is not known if they evacuated the city during the plague, as so many who could afford to do so did, but it must remain a distinct possibility.  From details contained in John Kent’s Will of December 1689 (7) it is clear that at some point he acquired a considerable estate including a manor house (the Manor House of the Mark) straddling the parish boundaries of Walthamstow and Lower Leyton. This area was then a very rural part of Essex and a popular location with many of London’s leading citizens for the location of their second homes. If he had this estate in 1665 it may well have been to here or his family’s home village of Standon in Hertfordshire that he and his family escaped in order to survive the plague.

While the Kent family may have survived 1665 unscathed like most other Londoners there was to be a major upheaval in their lives in the following year.

The Great Fire of London broke out in Pudding Lane in the early hours of Sunday 2nd September 1666 and by the following evening it had consumed all of Gracechurch and Lombard Streets. The Three Tuns tavern was raised to the ground while the family’s parish church of All Hallows was severely damaged.

A view of the south end of Gracechurch Street with the Monument (marking the starting point of the Great Fire of London) clearly in full view.

A view of the south end of Gracechurch Street with the Monument (marking the starting point of the Great Fire of London) clearly in full view.

At some time prior to the Great Fire of 1666 but after 1648/9 (i.e. the year in which the first London tradesman’s tokens were issued) John Kent issued the earlier illustrated farthing trade token from the Three Tuns tavern in Gracechurch Street. Unfortunately the fact that both his wives were called Elizabeth does not allow us to use the triad of initials on the reverse of the token to date it more precisely using contemporary parish marriage records. However, as previously mentioned, stylistically the token’s appearance suggests an issue date prior to c.1662.

Despite losing their tavern and presumably home in Gracechurch Street in early September 1666, just over a month later John and Elizabeth Kent had re-established their business, under its former name of the Three Tuns, in a vacant property at the intersection of Hart Street and Crutched Friars in the parish of St. Olave’s, Hart Street (Note 3).

Seething Lane Area in 1678 - Showing the locations of Samuel Pepys' Lodgings (BLUE); the parish church of St. Olave, Hart Street (RED) and that most likely for the Three Tuns Tavern (YELLOW)

Seething Lane Area in 1678 – Showing the locations of Samuel Pepys’ Lodgings (BLUE); the parish church of St. Olave, Hart Street (RED) and that most likely for the Three Tuns Tavern (YELLOW)

This district, in the north-eastern part of the city, was one of the few areas which escaped the Great Fire. Properties in such areas would have been highly sought after and expensive after September 1666 as the Great Fire had laid waste to most of the city.

A map of London immediately after the Great Fire of September 1666 showing the extent of the devastation and the locations of the Three Tuns Taverns in Gracechurch Street and Crutched Friars

A map of London immediately after the Great Fire of September 1666 showing the extent of the devastation and the locations of the Three Tuns Taverns in Gracechurch Street and Crutched Friars

Crutched Friars is the eastern extension of Hart Street. Starting adjacent to the parish church of St. Olave this street ran alongside the north end of Seething Lane and the Navy Office where the famous diarist and naval administrator Samuel Pepys lived and worked respectively.

Shortly after moving into their new establishment John and Elizabeth Kent issued the undated farthing token illustrated and described earlier. In addition they also issued half penny trade tokens. As can be seen from the above images the design of this farthing token was very similar to the earlier one they issued when at the Three Tuns tavern in Gracechurch Street.

Samuel Pepys would have been a regular visitor to the Three Tuns tavern in Crutched Friars. Geographically speaking it was his “local pub”. Between November 1666 and May 1669 Pepys records in his diary visiting “the tavern in our street” on a total of seven different occasions. He frequented the tavern with friends and colleagues from the adjacent Navy Offices plus with his neighbours on the occasion of parish dinners which appear to have been regularly held there. On 17th November 1666 Pepys refers to the Three Tuns as “the new tavern come by us”. In May of the next year he further refers to the tavern as “Kent’s”. Two related and more interesting of his diary references to the tavern are reproduced below.

Thursday 9th May 1667 – ….and so home, and in our street, at the Three Tuns’ Tavern door, I find a great hubbub; and what was it but two brothers have fallen out, and one killed the other. And who should they be but the two Fieldings; one whereof, Bazill, was page to my Lady Sandwich; and he hath killed the other, himself being very drunk, and so is sent to Newgate. I to the office and did as much business as my eyes would let me, and so home to supper and to bed.

Friday 10th May 1667 – Up and to the office, where a meeting about the Victuallers’ accounts all the morning, and at noon all of us to Kent’s, at the Three Tuns’ Tavern, and there dined well at Mr. Gawden’s charge; and, there the constable of the parish did show us the picklocks and dice that were found in the dead man’s pocket, and but 18d. in money; and a table-book, wherein were entered the names of several places where he was to go; and among others Kent’s house, where he was to dine, and did dine yesterday: and after dinner went into the church, and there saw his corpse with the wound in his left breast; a sad spectacle, and a broad wound, which makes my hand now shake to write of it. His brother intending, it seems, to kill the coachman, who did not please him, this fellow stepped in, and took away his sword; who thereupon took out his knife, which was of the fashion, with a falchion blade, and a little cross at the hilt like a dagger; and with that stabbed him.

Documentary evidence suggests that John Kent lived the rest of his life as a practicing vintner in the parish of St. Olave, Hart Street and eventually even became a parish elder. However, it is unclear if he remained the resident landlord at the Three Tuns tavern in Crutched Friars after the late 1660s.

There is an additional series of interesting farthing and half penny trade tokens which were issued for the Three Tuns tavern in Crutched Friars in the names of Theophilus Pace and his wife. These are undated but in London the issue of half-penny trade tokens typically dates to the period 1664 to 1669 while farthings were issued over a longer period commencing in 1648/9. No trade tokens of any denomination were issued after their use was officially declared illegal in 1672. This highlights a question mark with regards to the exact dates of John Kent’s tenure at the Three Tuns tavern.

One possible explanation of the Theophilus Pace tokens is that the latter was let the Three Tuns tavern by John Kent sometime after 1667 and that he retained that position until his death. The parish registers for St. Olave’s, Hart Street records the burial of a “Theophilus Pais” in February 1667/68. Thereafter it is possible that John Kent took over the running of the tavern again possibly with the ultimate intention of passing it onto his son Dixy on his retirement.

Parish register entries from the later 1660s to early 1670s offer documentary evidence of a further five children (Mary, Elizabeth, Peter, John and a still-born child) belonging to John and Elizabeth Kent in addition to the seven (i.e. Mercy, Elizabeth, Sam, Francis, Sarah, John and Dixy) known to have been born while he lived in Gracechurch Street. At least three of these additional children were born while John and Elizabeth were based in Crutched Friars as is evident from the documentary evidence below. Firstly from the parish registers of Al Hallows, Lombard Street:

Mary Kent – Mary the daughter of John Kent and of Elizabeth his wife was buried in our church the last day of March 1667 towards the upper end of the south side close to the wall.

Peter Kent – Peter the son of John Kent and of his wife was buried in the south chapel 21 foot from the upper end from the head of the corpse at 2 foot from ye Side wall on the 5th of November 1667

Unbaptized – A small child of John Kent and of Elizabeth his wife. Still born was buried in our South Chapel on the 5th day of September 1670.

John Kent – John the son of John & Elizabeth Kent was buried in our South Chapel on the 13th day of August 1671 sixteen foot from ye end wall to the head of the corpse and about a foot from the side wall.

Secondly from the parish register of St. Olave, Hart Street:

John Kent – Baptism 6th September 1668 – John son of John and Elizabeth Kente.

John Kent – Burial 13th August 1671 – John son of John and Elizabeth Kente buried at All Hallows in ye church.

Elizabeth – Baptism 26th January 1672/3 – Elizabeth daughter of Mr. John Kente and Elizabeth Kente his wife born and baptised.

While the family became established in their new parish it is interesting to note that they continued to use their former parish church for family burials despite the fact that it had been badly damaged during the Great Fire of 1666. After the fire the local parishioners of All Hallows, Lombard Street attempted to “patch up” their church by rendering the walls with straw and lime in an attempt to stop any further decay (8). A bell was hung in the steeple, despite its perilous condition, as late as 1679 (9). Ultimately, however, restoration proved impractical and the old building was replaced with a new one designed by the office of Sir Christopher Wren and completed in 1694.

After the birth of Elizabeth in 1673 there are no further records of John and Elizabeth Kent having any further children. Of John Kent’s twelve children only five were to survive into adulthood (11).

In 1668 John Kent’s eldest daughter, Mercy, married John Sergent, an apothecary from the adjacent London parish of St. Katherine Cree (12) (Notes 4). Oddly their marriage didn’t take place in either the bride’s or the groom’s home parish. Instead the ceremony took place in St. Mary’s Church in Leyton, Essex. As previously noted, at some point in his history John Kent acquired a considerable holding of land in this area of Essex including the Manor House of the Mark on the parish boundary of Walthamstow and Lower Leyton. By the time of the marriage of John’s daughter in 1668 the association between his family and this area of Essex already appears to have been established. By 1680 John Sergent had died making Mercy a widow. It is possible that it was through her father’s connections and/or introduction she met her second husband, Philip Stubbs, who according to their marriage license was also a widower and vintner from a neighbouring London parish to St. Olave, Hart Street (13).

28th October 1680. “Phillipp Stubbs of St Andrew Undershaft Lond. Vintner aged about 44 years and a Widdower” and “Mrs Mercy Sarjeant of St Catherine Creechurch Lond. aged about 34 years and a Widdowe ” to be married in ye parish Church of Battersey in Surrey.

On 4th December 1677 John Kent apprenticed his youngest surviving son, Dixy, to Richard Acton, a London vintner. He probably hoped that Dixy would follow in his father’s footsteps (Note 5). It is unclear what trade Dixy’s older brother, John, entered as no record has so far been found for him in the transcribed apprenticeship records of the principal London Livery Companies.

Even when John Kent was in his mid-60s he was still very active in his chosen profession being appointed one of the Masters of the Worshipful Company of Vintners in 1681. It is likely that he took on his final apprentice in 1685 (Note 6).

By the end of 1689 John Kent’s health must have been failing. He prepared his last will and testament on 14th December 1689. He died and was buried eight days later. An entry in the parish register for St. Olave, Hart Street for the 22nd December 1689 records the following;

John Kent, vintner, was buried in All Hallows, Lombard Street, Lond.

While short and to the point this entry records some interesting facts about John in that;

  1. He remained a resident of the parish of St. Olave, Hart Street until his death.
  2. At the time of his death he remained an active vintner.
  3. The historic ties to his former parish of All Hallows, Lombard Street remained strong until the time of his death and he was buried in his family’s former parish church along with his first wife and his seven deceased children.

John Kent’s Will was proven the day after his burial (i.e. 23rd December 1689). It states that he was an Elder of the parish of St. Olave, Hart Street as well as confirming him being a citizen and vintner of the city of London and that he was to be buried in the parish church of All Hallows, Lombard Street;

“at the upper end of the first isle in the right hand under the window where the seat stood.”

John’s Will further confirms that he was survived by his second wife, Elizabeth, and five of his children, namely John, Elizabeth and Dixy Kent plus his married daughters Mercy (Stubbs) and Elizabeth (Upsher).

To his eldest son, John, plus his daughters Mercy Stubbs and Elizabeth Upsher John Kent left £5 each. Similar amounts were each left to his “worthy good friends” Doctor Josiah Clarke and Mr. John Newton. To his youngest daughter Elizabeth Kent he left £500 to be paid to her on her 21st birthday or day of marriage, which ever came first. After the payment of any debts the remaining of John Kent’s estate excluding eight acres of meadow land in Leyton Marsh near the Ferry House (which was in the tenure of Edward Dawson) was to be split equally between his wife, Elizabeth, and his youngest son, Dixy. This included the various meadow and pastures lands and tenements pertaining to the Manor House of the Mark, all of which straddled the parish boundaries of Walthamstow and Lower Leyton in the county of Essex.

The signature of John Kent as it appears on the Apprenticeship Indenture of Throgmorton Underwood dated 4th February 1672/3.

The signature of John Kent as it appears on the Apprenticeship Indenture of Throgmorton Underwood dated 4th February 1672/3.

 

Foot Notes:

 

1) During the 51 year period that John Kent was an active vintner (i.e. from the completion of his apprenticeship in 1638 until his death in December 1689) the records of the Worshipful Company of Vintners record 34 separate apprentices who were bound to a master vintner by the name of John Kent.  These are listed in the summary table below.

Apprentices

While it is possible that all of the above apprentices were bound to our token issuer, particularly considering his apparent long and successful career and the fact that not all apprentices completed their binding period, it is equally possible that those listed after 1655 and 1669 respectively could relate to the apprentices of one or other of two other John Kents who were bound apprentice vintners in London in 1648 and 1662 respectively. The apprenticeship records for these two additional John Kents are summarised below.

  1. John Kent, son of William a merchant tailor of London, apprenticed to Leonard Girle on the 1st August 1648. (1655)
  2. John Kent, son of John a blacksmith of London, apprenticed to Nicholas Clarke on the 6th May 1662. (1669)

While we can be certain that both of the above boys embarked on apprenticeships to become vintners we have no evidence that either of them either completed their standard seven or eight year apprenticeships or went on to become vintners in their own right. It was not unheard of that boys who successfully completed an apprenticeship in a one particular trade went on to become a master in a totally different but often related trade.

 

2) An interesting later reference to the second Three Tuns Tavern build in the lower portion of Gracechurch Street, after the Great Fire of 1666, can be found in the Daily Journal of 16th September 1732.

“Yesterday, about 5 o’clock in the evening, notwithstanding the wind was so high, a sailor flew from the top of the Monument to the Upper Three Tuns tavern in Gracechurch Street, which he did in less than half a minute; there was a numerous crowd of spectators to see him. He came down within 20 feet of the place where the rope was fixed, and then flung himself off; and offered, if the gentlemen would make him a handsome collection, he would go up and fly down again.”

 

3) George Berry (14) suggests that the location of the Three Tuns tavern in Crutch Friars was half way along Crutch Friars on the southern side of the lane opposite the Navy Office where Samuel Pepys worked. However, the current writer believes that the tavern’s location was on the west side of the entrance to Crown Court Alley (15) at the north-west end of Crutched Friars where the lane joined Hart Street.

Part of John Rocque's Map of London (1746) indicating the location of the Three Tuns Tavern in Crutched Friards according to George Berry (BLUE) and the current writer (RED) plus the additional locations of Three Tuns Yard (YELLOW) and Samuel Pepys' lodgings (GREEN).

Part of John Rocque’s Map of London (1746) indicating the location of the Three Tuns Tavern in Crutched Friards according to George Berry (BLUE) and the current writer (RED) plus the additional locations of Three Tuns Yard (YELLOW) and Samuel Pepys’ lodgings (GREEN).

This location better fits Samuel Pepys’ own words when he records in his diary the location of the Three Tuns tavern as being “in our street”. Further support of this theory comes from later place-name evidence contained in John Roque’s famous 1746 map of London. In this map Crown Court in Crutched Friars has been re-named as Three Tuns Yard. This presumably is in recognition of the location of a tavern by the same name. An advertisement in the London Evening Post of 3rd April 1742 reads;

“To be let – the house and shop lately occupied by John Calcott blacksmith in Crutch Friars. Enquiry at the Three Tun Tavern against the Church.”

The use of the term “against the church” further suggests the tavern was located opposite St. Olave’s Church on Crutched Friars as opposed to being located down the alley that lead to Three Tuns Court.

The junction of Seething Lane, Hart Street and Crutched Friars showing the entrance to New London Street (formerly the site of the Three Tuns Alley and Tavern).

The junction of Seething Lane, Hart Street and Crutched Friars showing the entrance to New London Street (formerly the site of the Three Tuns Alley and Tavern).

Three Tuns Yard Alley was later to become New London Street, the original street entrance to which is still preserved (all be it as a dead-end turning) in the modern street plan of the north side of Hart Street.

4) It is possible that it was a close relation (i.e. a possible younger brother) of John Sergent’s the apothecary who married Mercy Kent in 1668 who was to be bound as an apprentice vintner to John Kent (the token issuer) in 1676 (see table in Note 1).

5) A Dixy Kent married Jane Brown on 11th January 1690 at All Hallows Church, London Wall. His trade is listed by Boyd as a linen draper and silversmith. If this entry is for Dixy Kent, son of John Kent, it indicates that he did not go on to follow in his father’s footsteps as a vintner despite being apprenticed as such. Dixy Kent died on 10th July 1696 and was buried in his father-in-law’s (Daniel Brown, died 1698) own vault in the parish church of St. Stephen, Wallbrook (16).

6) Further to Note 1 above it is interesting to note the areas of the United Kingdom from which the various apprentices came from. While many were from London or the Home Counties others were sent to London from as far afield as Mid-Wales and Yorkshire. It is highly likely that those apprentices listed as being from villages close to Standon in Hertfordshire plus Leyton and Walthamstow in Essex were bound to John Kent the token issuer given the close associations we know his family had to these two areas.

References:

  1. Webb, C. – London Livery Company Apprenticeship Registers. Volume 43. Vintners’ Company 1609-1800. (2006).
  2. Boyd, P. – Inhabitants of London. A genealogical Index held by the Society of Genealogists, London.
  3. Berry, G. – Tavern Tokens of Pepy’s London. (London, 1978).
  4. Latham, R.C. – The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Volume 10 – Companion. (London, 1995).
  5. Davies, M.; Ferguson, C.; Harding, V.; Parkinson, E. & Wareham, A. – London and Middlesex Hearth Tax. The British Record Society. Hearth Tax Series Volume IX, Part II. (London, 2014).
  6. Harben, H.A. – A Dictionary of London: Historical notes of streets and buildings in the City of London, including references to other relevant sources. (1918).
  7. PROB 11/397/409 – Will of John Kent (22nd December 1689), National Archives, London.
  8. Daniell, A.E. – London City Churches. (London, 1896).
  9. Godwin, G.; Britton, J. – All Hallows, Lombard Street. The Churches of London: A History and Description of the Ecclesiastical Edifices of the Metropolis. (London, 1839).
  10. Milbourn, T. – The Vintners’ Company: Their Nuniments, Plate and Eminent Members with
  11. Ibid 7.
  12. Ibid 2.
  13. Stubbs, H. – Pedigree of the Kentish Family of Stubbs. Archaeologia Cantiana. Volume 18. (1889).
  14. Ibid 3.
  15. Hyde, R. – The A to Z of Restoration London (The City of London, 1676). (London Topographical Society Publication. No.145. 1992).
  16. Ibid 2.

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Filed under Tokens from Pepys' London, Tokens from within the City Walls

Henry Gibbon at the sign of the Falcon in Fetter Lane

A farthing token issued by Henry Gibbon at the sign of the Falcon in Fetter Lane, London

A farthing token issued by Henry Gibbon at the sign of the Falcon in Fetter Lane, London

The above brass farthing token measures 15.8 mm and weighs 0.99 grams. It was issued in 1650 by Henry Gibbon a tradesman of Fetter Lane in the Farringdon Ward Without district of London. Its design may be formally described as follows;

Obverse: (mullet) HENRY. GIBBON . AT .THE , around a twisted wire inner border, within the depiction of a bird of prey facing left with its wings raised.

Reverse: (mullet) FALCON . IN . FETTER . LANE , around a twisted wire inner border. Within the date 1650 with a rosette above and below.

In the mid-17th century, as now, Fetter Lane linked Holborn in the north with Fleet Street in the south. During this period the lane was home to a considerable number of token issuers with thirty eight separate examples so far recorded from a wide variety of different tradesmen. These include tavern keepers, a grocer, a candle maker, grain dealer and a cheesemonger(1)(2). Interestingly a review of these tokens shows that five of them were issued by tradesmen operating at or adjacent to premises bearing the trade sign of the falcon. A summary listing of these is given below;

  1. Henry Gibbon at the Falcon in Fetter Lane; 1650; farthing
  2. J. B. at the Falcon in Fetter Lane; farthing
  3. G.L. & P.L. at the Falcon in Magpie Yard, Fetter Lane; farthing
  4. Robert Langborne & J. Langborne at the Falcon in Fetter Lane; farthing
  5. Robert Langley & J. Langley at the Falcon in Fetter Lane; farthing

Given that British trademen’s token were issued over an extended period in the third quarter of the 17th century (i.e. 1648 to 1672) it is possible that one or more of the above were issued by successive traders operating from the same business premises. In addition it is arguable that at least two of the above tokens were issued by the same tradesman. By the standards of 17th century phonetic spelling the issuers “Langborne” and “Langley” could easily be the same individual. The likelihood of this is even more probable given that in both cases the token issuer wife’s Christian name initial is “J”. Given such observations it is possible that there could have been fewer than five premises in Fetter Lane during the third quarter of the 17th century displaying the sign of the falcon.

As a trade sign the falcon is first recorded in London in 1423. Its appears to have found common but not necessarily exclusive use as a brew house and tavern sign(3) .Bryant Lillywhite’s Survey of London Trade Signs(4) records four separate examples of this sign between 1650 and 1966. Correctly or not he attributes all of them to taverns, ale houses or inns;

  1. The Falcon Tavern in Fetter Lane – 1650 to c.1715
  2. The Falcon at No. 127 Fetter Lane – 1826 to c.1860s
  3. The Falcon Hotel in Fetter Lane – 1866
  4. The Falcon Tavern at No. 10 Fetter Lane – 1739(5) to 1966 (Note 1)

A Golden Falcon is also recorded in Fetter Lane in 1710(6). It is uncertain if this is an additional example to those listed above or just a name variant of one of them.

Fetter Lane c.1720 - Showing known locations where there were businesses displaying the sign of the Falcon plus the parish church of St. Dunstan in the West.

Fetter Lane c.1720 – Showing known locations where there were businesses displaying the sign of the Falcon plus the parish church of St. Dunstan in the West.

A review of the Hearth Tax returns for London and Middlesex for Lady Day 1666 has failed to identify a Henry Gibbon or Gibbons in Fetter Lane or any other part of the city(7). This may imply that by 1666 he had moved out of his business premises (and possibly the capital) or had died. Analysis of a range of different contemporary documents, including several London Livery Company apprenticeship records, have further failed to identify him with any certainty.

An entry for a Henry Gibbon is contained in Boyd’s Inhabitants of London data base (8). While we have no means of confirming if this record is for the token issuer of 1650 it certainly offers a possibility. Boyd’s record lists Henry Gibbon as one of nine children born to Simon and Jane Gibbon. Simon Gibbon was a goldsmith and parishioner of St. Mathew’s, Friday Street, London. Boyd gives Henry’s birth year as 1611 which would have made him 39 in 1650 (i.e. the year of the above token’s issue). A further set of contemporary references to a Henry Gibbon (alternatively spelt Gibbons and Gibbens) has been found in the Westminster Rate Books and the Minutes Books of the Governors of Bridewell and Bethlem hospitals. In the current writer’s option these are less likely to be references to Henry Gibbon the token issuer of 1650 (see Note 2).

Of all the contemporary records so far viewed in the search for Henry Gibbons two stand out as offering the highest degrees of potential. The first of these is the Will (dated 16th May 1653 and proven in July 1653) of Henry Gibbons a stationer living in the parish of St. Dunstan in the West(9). This parish included much of the lower part of Fetter Lane and its surroundings. The second record is potentially even more significant. It takes the form of a burial entry in the registers of the parish church of St. Dunstan in the West. This church, located on the north side of Fleet Street at a point just west of its intersection with Fetter Lane.

 14th January 1652/3 – Mr. Henry Gibbons, chandler, buried, out of Fetter Lane.

While the individuals in these last two records share a common name and home parish their stated professions and different dates of death confirm that they are two separate individuals.

In summary the limited available historic evidence points to Henry Gibbon(s) being a candle maker who lived and worked at premises at or by the sign of the Falcon in the lower part of Fetter Lane and who died within three years of him issuing his own farthing trades tokens.

 

Notes:

1) During 1796 the Falcon Tavern at No.10 Fetter Lane played host to meetings of the celebrated London Corresponding Society (10). The premises survived the intense German bombing of the early 1940s and remained until the 1970s when the area was re-developed. Today the tavern’s former location is marked by the southern part and service entrance of the Slug and Lattice Bar on the south-eastern side of Fetter Lane.

The Falcon Tavern at No.10 Fetter Lane as it appeared in the 1970s (viewed looking south-east into Fleet Street).

The Falcon Tavern at No.10 Fetter Lane as it appeared in the 1970s (viewed looking south-east into Fleet Street).

2) While thought less likely to relate to Henry Gibbon the token issuer of 1650 two additional sets of contemporary references to a man of similar name have earlier been noted. These almost certainly refer to two separate individuals. A summary of these references are given below for completeness.

a) A Henry Gibbon or Gibbons is variously recorded in the Governors’ Court Minute Books as a patient in Bridewell Hospital between the period 1618 and 1647.

b) A Henry Gibbon/Gibbons or Gibbens is variously recorded in the Westminster Rate Books (11) between 1646 and 1674. It is unclear if these entries refer to a single or multiple individuals. A summary of entries by year and address are listed below;

1646 – The Strand, St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

1646 – Bedford Street (Landside), St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

1647 – The Street, St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

1648 – Little Church Street, St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

1649, 1651 & 1654 – The Street, St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

1654 – Bedford Street (Landside), St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

1655 – The Street, St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

1655 & 1658 – Bedford Street (Landside), St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

1673 – St. Margaret’s, Westminster.

1674 – Swan Yard, St. Margaret’s, Westminster.

References:

  1. Williamson. G.C. – Trade Tokens Issued in the Seventeenth Century in England, Wales and Ireland by Corporations, Merchants, Tradesmen, Etc. – A New and Revised Edition of William Boyne’s Work. – Volume 2. (London, 1967).
  2. Dickinson, M.J. – Seventeenth Century Tokens of the British Isles and their Values. (London, 2004).
  3. Lillywhite, B. – London Signs: A Reference Book of London Signs from Earliest Times to about the Mid Nineteenth Century. (London, 1972).
  4. Ibid.
  5. Newman, I. – London Corresponding Society Meeting Places – Exploring the 1790s Alehouse (www.1790salehouse.com; February 2012).
  6. Ibid.
  7. Davies, M.; Ferguson, C.; Harding, V.; Parkinson, E. & Wareham, A. – London and Middlesex Hearth Tax. The British Record Society. Hearth Tax Series Volume IX, Part II. (London, 2014).
  8. Boyd, P. – Inhabitants of London. A genealogical Index held by the Society of Genealogists, London.
  9. PROB 11/230/110 – Will of Henry Gibbons (16th May 1653), National Archives, London.
  10. Ibid [5].
  11. Westminster Rate Books 1634-1900 Transcription – Entries for Humphrey Vaughan for 1656, 1663, 1666, 1672 and 1705.

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Filed under Tokens from within the City Walls

John Patston at the Iron Gate, Tower of London

A farthing tradesman's token issued by John Patston at the Iron Gate adjacent to the Tower of London

A farthing tradesman’s token issued by John Patston at the Iron Gate adjacent to the Tower of London

The above copper farthing token measures 16.9 mm and weighs 1.10 grams. It was issued in the mid-17th century by John Patston a tradesman living adjacent to the Tower of London in the liberty of St. Katherine by the Tower, Middlesex.

The design of the token may be formally described as follows;

Obverse: (mullet) IOHN. PATSTON. , around twisted wire inner circle. Two monograms possibly arranged to form a merchant’s mark. Upper most a conjoined “T” and “S”. Below “I” followed by conjoined “H”, “O”, “N” and finally a “P” in the style of a merchant’s mark.

Reverse: (mullet) AT. THE. IRON. GATE , around twisted wire inner circle. Within a triad of initials comprising I | .P. | .A , with three dots below.

The token is undated but on both stylistic and probability grounds most likely dates to the period 1649 to the early 1660s.

The triads of initials on the reverse of the token are those of its issuer, John Patston, and his wife, Mrs. A. Patston. A further abbreviation of the token issuer name (i.e. John P.) appears in the second of the merchant mark like arrangement of monograms on the tokens obverse. The significance of the first monogram (i.e. Ts) is unknown and remains a tantalising mystery. Could it be the abbreviation of a business partner’s name or something totally different?

John Patston’s business address is clearly stated on his token as being at the Iron Gate. This location was within the precincts of the Tower of London at the south-east corner of the Tower Ditch (i.e. the moat) immediately adjacent to a set of water stairs that took their name from the gate. On the west side of the Iron Gate was Tower Wharf and on the east side St. Katherine Street which led into the Liberty of St Katherine by the Tower. This extra-parochial district of east London comprised approximately 1,000 houses many of which were in a poor state of repair and were crammed along narrow lanes. The district was inhabited by many seamen and rivermen plus vagabonds and prostitutes. Foreign craftsmen and immigrants were also attracted to the area as the Liberty did not come under the jurisdiction of the City’s guilds. Despite the areas high population density in the Great Plague the Liberty’s mortality rate was only half of the rate in areas to the north and east of the City of London.

The Tower of London and part of the Liberty of St. Katherine by the Tower showing the location of the range of buildings adjacent to the “Iron Gate” from where John Patston traded (map c.1720).

The Tower of London and part of the Liberty of St. Katherine by the Tower showing the location of the range of buildings adjacent to the “Iron Gate” from where John Patston traded (map c.1720).

In the maps published to illustrate Strype’s Survey of London and Westminster of 1720 (1) only one range of buildings are shown adjacent to the Iron Gate. This survey describes the approach to the gate from the west as follows;

Next, on the same South side, toward the East, is a large Water Gate, for Receipt of Boats and small Vessels, partly under a Stone Bridge from the River Thames. Beyond it is a small Postern, with a Draw-Bridge seldom let down, but for the Receipt of some great Persons, Prisoners. Then towards the East is a great and strong Gate, commonly called the Iron Gate, but not usually opened.

The plan illustrating Haiward’s and Gascoyne’s survey of the Tower of London pre-dates that in Strype’s Survey by 123 years. It shows two significantly longer and parallel ranges of buildings on the south side of the Tower Ditch leading up to the Iron Gate. It was one of these tenements that was later occupied by John Patston and his family in the mid-17th cen

The Liberty of the Tower of London from Haiward’s and Gascoyne’s survey of the Tower (1597)

The Liberty of the Tower of London from Haiward’s and Gascoyne’s survey of the Tower (1597)

Interestingly this particular token is reported to have been found by a “mudlark” in recent times on a stretch of the River Thames foreshore immediately south of the Tower of London. As such it was literally only a stone’s throw from its original issuer’s premises at the Iron Gate where it had originated some 360 years earlier.

(Left) Volunteers from the Thames Discovery Project surveying the foreshore in front of the Iron Gate & Tower Wharf where the John Patson farthing token is believed to have been found in the 1990s (Right) Arial view of the Tower of London clearly showing the once location of the Iron Gate and the Tower beach foreshore

(Left) Volunteers from the Thames Discovery Project surveying the foreshore in front of the Iron Gate & Tower Wharf where the John Patson farthing token is believed to have been found in the 1990s (Right) Arial view of the Tower of London clearly showing the once location of the Iron Gate and the Tower beach foreshore

In Search of John Patston and his Family

Other than working at premises at or by the Iron Gates near the Tower of London John Patston’s token gives no clue as to what his trade might have been. However, sufficient references remain in the historical record to allow us to address this question and many others relating to the life of this particular token issuer and his family.

The following partial life history of John Patston has been generated from parish registers, Livery Company records, hearth tax returns and probate records. While there is always the chance of confusing the historical records relating to different individuals, who share the same name, the use of specific time line, family relationship and geographical identifiers can often be used to help eliminate or minimise this risk. Where available such criteria have been applied in this case.

John Patston was born c.1636 in Northamptonshire (Note 1). On 10th May 1648 his father John, a vintner in Northampton, bound him as an apprentice grocer to John Barnaby of London (2). It appears that that young John Patston was the last of four separate apprentices that John Barnaby took on over his career. The young John would almost certainly have been bound into a standard seven year apprenticeship after which he would have received his freedom and become eligible to set up business himself as a member of the Worshipful Company of Grocers.

Unfortunately John Barnaby died in late 1650 (3) and it can only be assumed that John Patston was re-bound to another master grocer in order to complete his apprenticeship. Irrespective of this initial upset in his early career by 1659 John had become a citizen grocer of London. This is apparent from the apprenticeship records of the Worshipful Company of Grocers which recorded on 1st September of that year John took on his own fist apprentice. This was Collyer Hutchinson the son of Francis Hutchinson a yeoman of the Liberty of St. Katherine by the Tower, Middlesex (4). Collyer was the first of four apprentices that John took on over the duration of his career.

Collyer Hutchinson’s family lived in the Liberty adjacent to the business address as stated on John Patston’s farthing token (i.e. the Iron Gate). Whether this is an indication that by this date John had already taken up residence in premises at the Iron Gate isn’t certain. However, by 10th January 1659/60 an entry in the registers for St. Katherine by the Tower clearly places him locally and therefore it might be deduced that he was already established at the Iron Gate. This particular register entry is further illuminating in that it not only records the christening of John’s son, also named John, but additionally the name of his then wife, Anna. This is almost certainly the same “Mrs. A. Patston” whose initials are recorded in the triad on the reverse of John’s farthing token (Note 2).

The Royal Hospital and Collegiate Church of St. Katharine by the Tower. Demolished in 1825 to make way for St. Katherine' Docks

The Royal Hospital and Collegiate Church of St. Katharine by the Tower. Demolished in 1825 to make way for St. Katherine’ Docks

On 14th December 1664 John Patston took on a second apprentice namely John Sperry, the son of a yeoman (of the same name) from Riseley in Bedfordshire (5).

The Hearth Tax returns for 1666 records that John Patston was occupying premises with 6 hearths on the south side of Tower Ditch (6), i.e. that area adjacent to the Iron Gate. At this time this constituted the second largest number of hearths recorded from any of the premises bordering the south side of the Tower.

On 4th May 1666 John took on new apprentice. This was Humphrey Hutchins, the son of a Thames waterman (of the same name) from the Liberty of St. Katherine by the Tower, Middlesex (7). A further review of the Hearth Tax returns for 1666 indicates that Hutchins family lived in a dwelling having only 2 hearths in Lees Court close to St. Katherine’s Church (8). Presumably John Patston knew the father of his new apprentice well. The two would have likely worshipped at the same parish church. Also as a waterman, presumably plying his trade from the local Iron Gate and St. Katherine’s Water Stairs, it can be imagined that Humphrey would have ferried John Patston up and down the River Thames on many occasions.

How the Patston family’s fortunes fared during the Great Plague of 1665 is unknown but given that John appears to have re-married sometime prior to 1672 one assumption is that Anna may have been a victim of the deadly outbreak that cut short the lives of an estimated 100,000 Londoners in less than a 12 month period. No record of Anna’s burial has so far come to light.

John’s second wife was named Elizabeth. A record of their marriage has so far not been identified although on 20th October 1672 the couple christened their daughter, also named Elizabeth, at the nearby parish church of St. Dunstan in the East. This was followed two years later, on 5th October 1674, by the christening of their son, named John, at the same parish church (Note 3). Evidence exists that John Patston had an earlier daughter, named Sarah, in 1668 (Note 4). There is no conclusive evidence as to who her mother was but it was very possibly Elizabeth.

It is interesting to note that in the mid-1670s the Patston family appeared to favour the parish church of St. Dunstan in the East over their previous association with the collegiate church of St. Katherine by the Tower. While both churches were local to the Tower of London St. Dunstan’s was slightly further away from the Iron Gate. It may be that this was Elizabeth Patston’s original home parish or that the Patston family were no longer trading from their former premises having possibly moved further west into the city. From evidence in John Patston’s later history it is clear that by the end of his life he had re-established an association with the church of St. Katherine by the Tower.

In 1680 John Patston was in his mid-40s and was still actively trading as a grocer. On 2nd April of this year he took on what was to be his fourth apprentice. This was Joseph Faircliff the son of Humphery Faircliff an embroiderer from the neighbouring parish of All Hallows-by-the-Tower, London (9).

On entering his apprenticeship the young Joseph Faircliff would have been expecting to serve his new master for at least the next seven years of his life. However, this was not to be. Less than a year later John Patston’s health appears to have taken a turn for the worse. John must have been aware that whatever was afflicting him was gravely serious as on 22nd February 1680/1 he prepared his Will in which he described himself as “weak in body but sound and perfect in mind” (10). Within ten days of making his Will John was dead. The register of St. Katherine by the Tower records his death on 12th March 1680/1 and his burial in the adjoining churchyard on 15th March.

Places mentioned in the history of John Patston in and around the Liberty of the Tower of London (from Strype's Survey of 1720)

Places mentioned in the history of John Patston in and around the Liberty of the Tower of London (from Strype’s Survey of 1720)

John Patston’s Will, which was proven on 14th March 1680/1 (11), is enlightening in that it reveals several more facts relating to his family history.

It is clear from his Will that at some time after 1674 (i.e. the last known reference to his wife Elizabeth) John had re-married for a third time. As yet no record has been identified of either John’s marriage to his last wife Blanch or to the death of his second wife, Elizabeth.

At the time of John Patston’s death he had three surviving children, a son John and two daughters Sarah and Elizabeth. All three were under the age of 21 and un-married. The mention of only one son suggests that his first recorded child (.i.e. John, born to him and Anna in January 1659/60) was already dead.

By the provisions of John’s Will his wife Blanch was bequeathed £200. His three surviving children, Sarah, Elizabeth and John, who are seemingly listed within the Will in order of their respective ages, were each bequeathed £100 which was payable to each of them on reaching the age of 21 or, in the case of the two girls, on the occasion of their marriages. To his surviving apprentice Joseph Faircliff, who is described as a mealman (i.e. a trader in grain and cereal) John left the sum of £5. After the payment of all outstanding debts John left the balance of all his goods and estate to the executor of his Will, namely Humphrey Hutchins, waterman of the Liberty of St. Katherine by the Tower (12). Rather than just being the father of John’s third apprentice it appears that Humphrey Hutchins was also one of his most trusted friends.

Notes:

1) John Patston’s estimated year of birth (i.e. 1636) has been back calculated from the date when his father bound him as an apprentice grocer to John Barnaby in 1648. In the mid-17th century the typical age for boys to be bound into apprenticeships was 12 although there are examples of some boys being older (i.e. in the range 14 to 18) which could push John Patston’s birth year back to as early as 1630.

2) An entry for 8th March 1655 in the parish registers for St. Mary Whitechapel in east London contain reference to the marriage of a John Patston, of the parish of St. Albans Wood Street (aged 25) and Anne Rappitt of St. Mary Whitechapel (aged 19) who was the daughter of William Rappitt, a baker of the same parish. While the names and ages of this couple fit well with the triad of initials of our token’s issuers’ the occupation stated in the marriage registry for John (a gold wire drawer) does not fit with his previous and later known occupation as a grocer. As such this record has been discounted a being a reference to a different Mr. J. and Mrs. A. Patston to that of our token issuers.

3) In addition to the contemporary documentary references to John and Elizabeth Patston evidence of their marriage is further substantiated from the numismatic record.

A half penny tradesman's token issued by John and Elizabeth Patston at the Iron Gate adjacent to the Tower of London. This example was found by a "mudlark" on the foreshore of the River Thames.

A half penny tradesman’s token issued by John and Elizabeth Patston at the Iron Gate adjacent to the Tower of London. This example was found by a “mudlark” on the foreshore of the River Thames.

Examples of a second trade token type exist which bear an almost identical set of monograms to those on the reverse of John Patston’s farthing token. This second token is struck on an octagonal brass flan and is of a half penny denomination. The obverse of the token depicts a representation of the coat of arms of the Worshipful Company of Grocers around which is the triad of initials of its issuers I. P. and E. Above a legend, in three lines, gives the token issuer’s address as “AT IRON GATE”. The reverse of the token bears the legend “HIS HALFE PENNY” in three lines. Below are two monograms possibly arranged to form a merchant’s mark either side of which is a rosette decoration. The upper most monogram comprises a conjoined “T” and “S”. The second below comprises an “I” followed by conjoined “H”, “O”, “N” (i.e. for JOHN) and finally a conjoined “P” and “E”. The added letter “E” in the monogram and the triad displayed on this token is an obvious reference to John Patston’s second wife Elizabeth.

While this second token type is undated its use of a distinctive octagonal flan is something that is only seen in the last four years of the generally accepted issuing period of 17th century British tradesmen’s tokens which ran from 1649 to 1672.

4) On 25th June 1691 a Sarah Patston, aged 2 (i.e. born c.1668) of the Liberty of St. Katherine by the Tower married Jabez Phillips aged 23 at the parish church of All-Hallows, London Wall. This is very probably the marriage of John Patston’s daughter Sarah as recorded in his Will. A review of baptism entries in the registers of the church of St. Katherine by the Tower for 1668 has failed to identify an entry for Sarah. However, it does contain the following puzzling entry which cannot be easily reconciled with the currently perceived family history of John Patston the token issuer.

  • John, some say a bastard, the son of Sarah Patston, daughter of John, was born the 13th of December, baptised the same day.

The above entry is reported here for completeness and as an example of how difficult such research can be, particularly where there is more than one person living in an area of study during the same period and who share a common name or set of initials.

 

References:

1) Strype, J. – A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster: Containing the Original, Antiquity, Increase, Modern Estate and Government of those Cities. – Corrected, Improved, and very much Enlarged Edition. (London, 1720).

2) Webb, C. – London Livery Company Apprenticeship Registers, Grocers’ Company Apprenticeships 1629-1800. Volume 48. (Society of Genealogists. 2008).

3) PROB/11/213. National Archives (London).

4) Ibid [2].

5) Ibid [2].

6) Davies, M.; Ferguson, C.; Harding, V.; Parkinson, E. & Wareham, A. – London and Middlesex Hearth Tax. The British Record Society. Hearth Tax Series Volume IX, Part II. (London, 2014).

7) Ibid [2].

8) Ibid [6].

9) Ibid [2].

10) PROB/11/366. National Archives (London).

11) Ibid [10].

12)   Ibid [10].

Acknowledgements:

I would like to thank Nathalie Cohen of Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) for her permission to reproduce her photograph of volunteers of the Thames Discovery Programme surveying the foreshore in front of the Tower of London (as viewed from the north end of Tower Bridge).

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Edward Munns at the sign of the Sugarloaf on London Bridge

A half penny token issued by Edward Munns - A tradesman working on London Bridge

A half penny token issued by Edward Munns – A tradesman working on London Bridge

The copper half penny token, pictured above, measures 21.2 mm and weighs 2.59 grams. It was issued in 1668 by Edward Munns, a tradesman operating from premises at or by the sign of the Sugar Loaf on London Bridge.

The design of the token may be formally described as follows;

Obverse: (sexfoil) EDWARD. MVNS. AT. THE. SVGAR , around a twisted wire circle. Within the depiction of a sugarloaf

Reverse: (sexfoil) ON. LONDON. BRIDG. 1668, around a twisted wire circle, within three lines the legend HIS / HALFE / PENNY

Edward Munns was one of only six tradesmen who lived and worked in one of the buildings which were perched along the sides of old London Bridge who are known to have issued private trade tokens (1).

A map of London & The South Bank showing Old London Bridge (c.1720).

A map of London & The South Bank showing Old London Bridge (c.1720).

Old medieval London Bridge comprised a broad road carried by twenty asymmetrical narrow stone arches resting on large piled masonry piers. It was the city’s only bridge over the River Thames which, prior to the building of the Victoria Embankment on its northern side, was considerably wider than it is today. On the south side of the bridge, at Southwark, its entrance was marked by a fortified gate house. For centuries the boiled and tarred (for preservation) heads and severed limbs of executed traitors were held aloft on pikes from the top of this gate house and publically displayed to all entering the city from the south.

Traitors heads on public display on the fortified gate way at the southern end of London Bridge

Traitors heads on public display on the fortified gate way at the southern end of London Bridge

It is believed that the practice of exhibiting traitor’s heads from the gate house at the south of the bridge continued into the first quarter of the 18th century. After the re-building of the city, post the Great Fire of 1666, the new Temple Barr gate way became a more regular location for their display.

An engraving by Claes Visscher showing Old London Bridge in 1616 from Southwark

An engraving by Claes Visscher showing Old London Bridge in 1616 from Southwark

The approach to the bridge on its northern side was via Lower Fish Street, just west of the church of St. Magnus the Martyr, in the Bridge Ward of the City.

By the start of the 17th century both the east and west sides of the bridge were covered in a near continuous row of three to five storey wooden tenements which contained both private dwellings and shops which fronted onto the road. From the 1580s the bridge also housed a tidal water wheel powered pump under arches at its northern end. This pump provided the city with one of its earlier supplies of water directly from the River Thames.

A reconstruction of London Bridge as it may have appeared in the 17th century

A reconstruction of London Bridge as it may have appeared in the 17th century

In 1579 a new grand and highly elaborate five storey building, Nonsuch House, was erected towards the southern end of the bridge. As part of this re-development one of arches of the bridge was taken out and replaced by a drawbridge. Whilst this added some additional protection to the City it allowed larger vessels access to the upper part of the River Thames for the first time in hundreds of years.  Nonsuch House was Britain’s first recorded fully prefabricated building. It was built and trial erected in Holland before being shipped in pieces to London in 1578 where it was re-assembled on a space cleared for it on the southern part of the bridge.

An artists impression of Nonsuch House in the early 17th century showing the draw bridge imeadiately in front of its entrance.

An artists impression of Nonsuch House in the early 17th century showing the draw bridge immediately in front of its entrance.

In 1633 a fire broke out on the north end of the bridge which destroyed forty three houses and shops (2). Although there was some degree of re-building at this end of the bridge in the immediate years that followed a gap remained in the continual line of tenements. Luckily it was this natural fire brake which protected the buildings perched on the mid and southern parts of the bridge from being incinerated during the Great Fire of London. The Great Fire consumed most of the city of London over a period of four days in September 1666. It started in a bakery in Pudding Lane close to the bridge’s northern end.

 It was from within the hustle and bustle of the unique surroundings on old London Bridge that Edward Munns issued his half-penny trade tokens. These tokens display the trade sign (i.e. the sugarloaf) and location (i.e. on London Bridge) at or close to which Edward’s premises stood. This was a time before the formal address numbering of buildings. Ornate and memorable trade signs, in association with specific street names, were the standard means of expressing a location’s address. Trade signs would typically be suspended above a trader’s business premises or built into their fabric.  In isolation the sign of a sugarloaf is highly suggestive of its owner being a grocer(3). As one of the staple products sold by grocers in the 17th century, sugar, in the form of a distinctive wholesale loaf, would have been instantly associated with their trade by the public.  

Reconstruction of a 17th century maid braking sugar from a sugar loaf

Reconstruction of a 17th century maid braking sugar from a sugarloaf

Whilst normally indicative of a grocer the sign was also adopted by a few other tradesmen in addition to some taverns of the period. However, a review of contemporary records has indicated that Edward Munns was neither a grocer nor a tavern keeper. A clue to his occupation was initially provided in a list of the individuals and their trades who lost their properties in the London Bridge Fire of 1633. This list indicates that at the north end of the bridge, at least, there was a predominance of tradesmen involved in aspects of the cloth and clothing trade (2).

 Edward Munns was the youngest of three sons born to Thomas Munns and Susan Foster. Thomas was a citizen of London and draper from the parish of St. Mary Abchurch whilst Susan Foster was originally from the parish of St. Saviour’s, Southwark(4). The couple married in 1605 and although Thomas died in 1615 all three of his sons (Thomas b.1606, John b.1608 and Edward, b. circa 1615) went on to become drapers like their father(4). Each of the boys would have served a seven-year apprenticeship with a master draper. On completing their apprenticeships they received their freedom from their respective masters (Thomas in 1628, John in 1632 and Edward in 1637)(4) . Thereafter each of the young men would have been eligible to join the Worshipful Company of Drapers. Shortly after receiving his freedom Edward Munns started his own business from premises on London Bridge. This is confirmed from an entry in the London Poll Tax returns for 1641(2) ;

Munns, Edward – girdler on the bridge

On the 3rd March 1645 an Edward Munns married Ann Grimes at the church of Holy Trinity, Minories just outside the eastern boundaries of the city, close to the Tower of London. According to a leading genealogical index of London families(4) Edward Munns (the draper of London Bridge) had one recorded child, Ann, who married a John Heather in 1663. If Ann Munns was born circa 1645/6 this would have made her 17/18 at the time of her wedding. Given that it was common practice in the 17th century for parents to pass the mother’s first names on to their first born daughter this adds further support to Edward Munns the draper being the man who married Ann Grimes of the Minories in 1645.

 I can find no further references to Edward Munns’ wife in any surviving records. Edward’s trade tokens of 1668 carry only his name. Often, but not always, if a trader was married he would incorporate both his and his wife’s initials into the reverse of his token design. While this was very common on the farthing tokens issued by London traders during the period 1649 to the early 1660s it was not so conventional on the half penny tokens which became increasingly predominant from the early 1660s to 1672. Edward’s final Will makes no reference to a wife and implies he only had one (or at least one surviving) child, Ann. Combining all these facts together it is tempting to speculate that Edward Munns’ wife died shortly after the birth of the couples only child. She may not even have survived the birth of this child. Death of mothers in or as a result of child birth was not at all uncommon in the 17th century.

 A search of the Hearth Tax returns for 1666 has failed to identify Edwards Munns on London Bridge. However, we know he was still trading there in 1668 as that is the date on his tokens which confirms him on the bridge at or by the sign of the sugarloaf.

Two clues exist as to the precise location of the sign of the sugarloaf on the bridge. In mid-November 1667 an entrepreneur by the name of James Peters placed an advert in the London Chronicle informing those who were looking to buy or sell vacant plots of land in the city, post the Great Fire of 1666, to register with him(5) . James Peters was effectively offering his services as a land sale agent by compiling a registry of vacant and available land in the city. The advert clear states how those interested in taking advantage of his services were to find him;

 “…the dwelling house of Mr. James Peters Scrivener, at the Sign of the Sugar-loaf near the Draw-bridge on London-Bridge…”

 Returning to the Hearth Tax returns of 1666 an entry can be found for the above mentioned individual;

 James Peters – Paying tax on a property with 6 hearths located on the Bridge on the East Side

 Thus it can be deduced that Edward Munns’ shop was located by the sign of the sugarloaf which was on the south-east part of the bridge close to the draw bridge which was located on the south side of Nonsuch House.

London Bridge in the early 17th century (looking from the West) showing the general location of the sign of the sugar loaf and Edward Munns shop south of Nonsuch House

London Bridge in the early 17th century (looking from the West) showing the general location of the sign of the sugarloaf and Edward Munns shop south of Nonsuch House

 Edward Munns had a long and seemingly successful career as a London draper. In 1667 he became a member of the Worshipful Company of Drapers. From 1678 he went on to be elected to various senior offices within the Company(6) . These included;

  •  Assistant – In 1682/3 and 1683/4
  • Warden – In 1678/9, 1685/6 and 1687/8

 Over his career Edward Munns took on no fewer than seven different apprentices(6). These included(4) ;

  •  Samuel Pain – Received his freedom from Edward Munns on 23rd February 1649
  • James Goldham – Received his freedom from Edward Munns on 6th May 1657
  • Edward Kidder – Apprenticed to Edward Munns on 20th March 1666.
  • Francis Cade – Received his freedom from Edward Munns on 20th November 1667
  • John Clarke – Apprenticed to Edward Munns on 10th March 1680

 Edward Kidder was the son of Thomas Kidder, a merchant tailor, who also had premises on London Bridge prior to his death in 1656(4). No doubt Edward Munns had known the Kidder family well before he took Edward on as his apprentice. John Clare, the son of a London butcher, was almost certainly Edward Munns’ last apprentice as Edward died in 1689/90(4)(6). By this date he was in his mid-70s and so had lived to a very respectable age for the period.

 Edwards Munns’ Last Will and Testament was written on 23rd October 1688(7) and confirms that he had amassed a considerable amount of money as well as a certain amount of property during his life time. Edward made his son-in-law, John Heather, executor of his Will in which he left the bulk of his goods and estate to his daughter Ann with provision that it went primarily to her and then to her son John and not her husband. Presumably John was the eldest of the Ann and John Heather’s five children, the others being Susan, William, Elizabeth and Alice. Separate provisions were made in Edward’s Will for all five of his grandchildren. Such provisions comprised various monetary amounts. These were payable in the forms of individual differing annuities plus final sums which were to be paid to each grandchild on them reaching certain stipulated ages or, in the case of the girls, their marriages, which ever occurred first. Particularly generous provisions were made for John and Susan in Edward’s Will compared to those made for his other three grandchildren.

 Edward’s Will makes no reference to him owning any leases or property on London Bridge. This coupled with the absence of his name against any of the returns from the Hearth Tax of 1666 suggests that his premises on the bridge were either rented or held by a lease which had expired by the time he made his final Will in October 1688.  However, his Will clearly indicates that he did own land and property in Barrons Court and Barrons Alley in the Aldgate Without district of London. As yet I have been unable to locate the precise location of this address on contemporary maps or gazetteers within the fairly well-defined bounds of Aldgate Without. Interestingly the general location of this property was close to the parish church where it is believed Edward Munns married Ann Grimes in 1645 (i.e. Holy Trinity, Minories). As such it is possible that the bequeathed property in Edward’s Will was related to an inheritance secured from his late wife’s family.

   

References:

  1. Dickinson, M.J. – Seventeenth Century Tokens of the British Isles and their Values. (London, 2004).
  2. Upcott, W. – Great Fire on London Bridge, in 1633. The Gentleman’s Magazine, and Historical Chronicle, Volume 94, Part 2. November 1824.
  3. Lillywhite, B. – London Signs: A Reference Book of London Signs from Earliest Times to about the Mid Nineteenth Century. (London, 1972).
  4. Boyd, P. – Inhabitants of London. A genealogical Index held by the Society of Genealogists, London.
  5. The London Gazette, Number 209, November 14th to 18th, 1667.
  6. Johnson, Rev. A.H. – The History of the Worshipful Company of the Drapers of London. Vol. IV. (Oxford, 1922).
  7. PROB/11/396. National Archives (London).

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